Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

UC Business and Engineering Students Bring Sustainable Energy Idea to National Platform

Monday, December 19, 2016 6:28 PM
Waste to Energy solution among three contenders to compete on September 9 for awards totaling $65K.
Elevator Pitch

Left to right: Ethan Jacobs, Ron Gillespie and Qingshi Tu at the IQ E-Pitch competition.

A group of students from UC’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business and the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) are taking their sustainable development idea to the final round in a national competition and are now in pursuit of awards totaling $65,000.

Ronald Gillespie, BSIM ’14; Ethan Jacobs, CEAS ‘13, MBA ’14; and Qingshi Tu, CEAS ’15; are among three finalists and will present their Bearcat Clean Energy startup business called Effuelent at the inaugural Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development competition in Miami, Florida, on September 9, 2013.

Effuelent, a Waste to Energy company, extracts fat, oil and grease from wastewater to produce a low-cost biodiesel feedstock. Currently those substances are regarded as waste and end up in landfills. Through technology developed by UC CEAS Professor Mingming Lu, Effuelent produces a low-cost alternative (soy, rapeseed and corn oils) to expensive agricultural based biodiesel feedstock.

The group is now working to implement their technology at the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, the largest wastewater treatment facility in the region.

“To make this happen, a larger-than-lab scale reactor is currently being built to prove the commercial viability of the technology,” Tu says.

The group has been in the spotlight on several occasions. They took their Effuelent idea and created a business plan, pitch and presentation (with help from Lindner entrepreneurship Professor Charles Matthews) to compete in the January 2013 Ohio Clean Energy Challenge, the March 2013 Innovation Quest Elevator Pitch (IQ E-Pitch) Pitch and the April 2013 UC Invents. The team earned two first-place finishes; a $500 grant from UC Invents and $1,000 prize from IQ E-Pitch sponsored by the UC Center for Entrepreneurship & Education in the Lindner College of Business.

The group also was recognized in the business community in April 2013 at the Venture Labs E-Team Workshop hosted by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) in Cambridge, Mass.

The weekend long workshop focused on market analysis and value proposition development and awarded the UC team a $5,000 grant.

“What started as student project just may change the way society views and deals with wastewater,” Gillespie says.

The Odebrecht Organization, was created in 1944 – the Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development program was created in 2008 in Brazil, and has since expanded to 10 countries.