Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) graduate assistant Ryan Powell was one of the Final Four competing for a $100,000 grand prize at the $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge Finals, held at the University of Maryland on March 26, 2014.
The $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge is a business plan competition encouraging students from all universities throughout the southeastern United States to develop business plans for new clean energy companies focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements and advanced fuels/vehicles.
“I’m delighted to see one of our graduate students starting his own business right out of graduate school," said IMET Director Russell Hill, who serves as Powell's advisor for his Ph.D. studies. "This is a great fit with IMET’s mission to promote economic development in Maryland.”
Powell competed with his start-up biotechnology company Manta, which is utilizing new technologies to manufacture renewable crude oil from algae. His proprietary technique stands apart from other biofuel companies because it permits the manufacture of oil below the current market price of fossil-based crude oil with low up-front costs and minimal seed investment.
"It's possible to make renewable, carbon-neutral crude oil at production costs lower than traditional crude oil," Powell said.
The daylong ACC Clean Energy Challenge finals event began with ten semifinalist teams from the southeast region. Following the semi-finals round, Georgia Tech, Clemson and two University of Maryland teams advanced to the competition’s Final Four, where judges selected Energy Internet from Georgia Tech as the ACC Clean Energy Challenge Champion.