Paris, 30 June 2006 – The Altran Foundation for Innovation has revealed that the winner of the 2006 Award is Rudy van der Blom for the Maxxun project. Maxxun is a Dutch start-up developing a groundbreaking solar energy system based on the luminescent solar concentrator (LSC) technology. Its main advantage is that it more than halves the necessary investment compared to existing solar energy systems and consequently reduces the cost of the electricity produced. The Maxxun project emerged victorious from the 80 international projects in the running for this year's award. A special award went to PragmaPAC, the French project headed by Pierre Forté, for the development of a new fuel cell technology.
Faced with the rise in energy consumption and the associated environmental problems, urgent action must be taken to raise awareness among the public and the corporate world. By choosing Technological Innovation and Energy as the theme for its annual 2006 Award, the Altran Foundation sought to draw on its wealth of expertise to find an alternative paving the way to a long-lasting source of energy.
Corinne Lepage, President of the 2006 Award Jury, mentioned: "Technological innovation alone will not be enough to overcome the immense challenge represented by climate change. But without technological innovation, humanity will be unable to face up to the greatest transformation to be accomplished by a generation, i.e. our generation."
The Maxxun project - solar energy for the great majority of people The solar energy systems currently available on the market have several drawbacks: the high cost due to the solar cells, a long return on investment period and a low output in diffuse light. Rudy van der Blom's team is experimenting with a luminescent solar concentrator system featuring a large plastic sheet, a fluorescent layer and a solar cell. The fluorescent layer absorbs and then re-emits the light at the optimum wavelength. Part of the emitted light is sent to the solar cell by means of total internal reflection. The Maxxun project's innovation lies in its ability to reduce the size of the solar cell for the same amount of energy harnessed, thereby leading to a significant reduction in cost.
The helping hand given by the Altran Foundation for Innovation As is the case every year, Altran provides the award winner and his/her team with the group's top-tier consultants. The group's engineers lend their support to the project for one year and provide their technical, technological and commercial skills and expertise. This year, their support will be focused on optimising the performance levels of the actual product and implementing innovative means of production to create larger-sized solar panels. Such developments will increase the product's qualities and capacities, as well as the opportunities for its large-scale marketing and distribution.
Special 2006 Award attributed to the French PragmaPAC project PragmaPAC is both a new geometric concept and a new assembly process, whose defining feature is that it does away with a number of costly components used to date in conventional fuel cells. PragmaPAC uses lower-cost, smaller and lighter materials to create the ideal conditions for automated industrial production. Pierre Forté's team at French company Pragma Industries is looking to remove the brakes hindering the expansion of fuel cell technology. In line with its R&D programme, Pragma Industries has already developed key materials, known as "gas diffusion layers", required for developing the PragmaPAC project.
According to Pierre Forté, the very high-performance gas diffusion layers pioneered by Pragma Industries are a completely unprecedented technology, offering up to 90% extra electrical conductivity compared to the materials traditionally used in the sector.
AMPELMANN – THE NETHERLANDS
Ampelmann is a motion compensation platform for safe, easy and fast access to offshore structures. This new technology is a combination of two existing technologies: The Stewart platform has a configuration of six cylinders, used in flight simulators and other motion systems. Moreover, recent technological developments in motion measurement brought about faster and more accurate systems. As a result, by measuring the ship motions, the Ampelmann system is able to control the Stewart platform thanks to the 6 cylinders aiming at keeping it stationary even in case of high waves.
GREENHOUSE VILLAGE – THE NETHERLANDS
Basically, Greenhouse Village uses the excess of solar energy captured by greenhouses for other power needs in housing: the greenhouse cover remains closed, the summer heat is transferred to ground water and is later used for heating (greenhouses as well as living spaces) ; in the winter a cooling tower keeps part of the aquifer cold and this water is used in summer for cooling greenhouses as well as living spaces when the temperature rises. Biogas resulting from digesting the greenhouse and other waste produces carbon dioxide for the closed greenhouse, electricity and hot water for the village.
DEVELOPMENT OF AN ACTIVE CONTROL TURBOCHARGER – UNITED KINGDOM
This project introduces an innovative new concept in turbochargers, that of using active control at the turbine inlet with the aim of harnessing the highly dynamic exhaust gas pulse energy emanating at high frequency from an internal combustion engine, in order to increase the engine power output and reduce its exhaust emissions. The technology consists of a system and method of operation, which regulate the inlet area to a turbocharger inlet, throughout each engine exhaust gas period, thereby actively adapting to the characteristics of the high frequency, highly dynamic flow. The technology addresses, therefore, for the first time the fundamental problem of the poor generic engine turbocharger match, since all current state of the art systems in turbo charging are still passive receivers of this highly dynamic flow without being able to provide optimum turbine inlet geometry through each exhaust gas pulse period.
INNOVATION AND ENERGY SAVING FOR LEAD-ACID BATTERY – ITALY
Cesare Catelli has been working on the matter in his Italian company P.C. di Pompeo Catelli in order to develop a new production method for lead-acid batteries in order to save energy during the production phase, increase the performance and duration of accumulators, improve the product quality and reduce the amount of needed lead.
This project is innovative for lead-acid battery industries because it develops a new production process in the most critical phases of the electrode production. If the test results are confirmed, it will be possible to produce batteries with less lead content and with less energy requirements during production processes.
The Altran Foundation
For 10 years, the Altran Foundation for Innovation has awarded technological innovation to help benefit the community. The Foundation prize is awarded in a different category each year to searchers, research teams or project managers, for a technological innovation on a specific theme. The Altran Foundation Award is innovative: one year of technological advice offered by Altran, under the form of personalised assistance for the winning project or projects. Involving Altran's European consultants and managers, this support covers all the areas of Altran know-how, in terms of research and scientific innovation. The Altran Foundation received recently the Fondation de France Award for the 24th ADMICAL's Awards Ceremony.
The theme of the 2007 Award is « Mending the human body ». What are the materials, methods and technological non pharmaceutical processes, developed to heal, restore the human body in an ethical, innovative and efficient way?
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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