Purdue student startup announced as finalist for 2015 Clean Energy Challenge

April 10, 2015  


nuclear energy prototype

Atlas Energy Systems LLC co-founders Ian Hamilton and Josh Auger test a prototype that could convert nuclear energy waste into electricity. The company will compete April 14 against four other teams in the student track of the 2015 Clean Energy Challenge in Chicago. (Photo by Hillary Henry/Purdue Research Foundation)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. and CHICAGO - Atlas Energy Systems LLC, a Purdue University startup, is one of five finalists in the student track of the 2015 Clean Energy Challenge, a nationally recognized accelerator program for clean energy innovation, run by Chicago-based nonprofit Clean Energy Trust and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The challenge will be held Tuesday (April 14) in Chicago and will bring together venture capitalists, industry executives, civic leaders and the public to watch startup officials pitch their businesses and hear keynote addresses by prominent thought leaders. The winner will receive a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and will compete against four other teams in the National Student Clean Energy Business Plan Competition on June 24 in Washington, D.C.

Purdue University students Josh Auger, Ian Hamilton and Kyle Harris, along with Purdue alumnus Kyle Pendergast, created Atlas Energy Systems to develop and commercialize a device that could potentially turn nuclear waste into electricity.

Hamilton said radiation sources, such as spent nuclear fuel, enter the device, which ionizes a gas to convert the radiation energy into electricity.

"Our technology would be able to use the byproduct of nuclear waste and generate more electricity from it," he said. "Also, this is a safe way to eliminate this waste because it has the potential to be dangerous as it continually releases harmful radioactive particles before it reaches its stable state."

Hamilton is a senior in the School of Materials Engineering, Auger a senior in the School of Mechanical Engineering and Harris a senior in the Krannert School of Management. Pendergast is an alumnus of the College of Engineering.

Atlas Energy Systems won the statewide business plan competition that was held earlier this year. The state competition required a three-minute video pitch and a comprehensive slide deck to communicate each technology to a panel of judges.

"Having won on the state level, with the help of our cinematographer Brendan Michaelsen, we are now granted access to more resources and mentors to help us refine our Clean Energy proposal as we move forward to the regional competition," Auger said.

Auger said the team is excited for the opportunity to learn from some of the most influential industry leaders, which will help take the company to the next level.

"This opportunity will allow us to speak in front of those capable and influential enough to elevate our company and project research to a higher echelon of operations," he said. "It is a very exciting time for the team as we prepare for this next level of competition while also continuing our research in the lab."

The challenge is separated into three divisions: the student track, the early stage and the emerging growth divisions. Other finalists in the student track are Advanced Renewable Technology International from Iowa State University, CrystalE from Case Western Reserve University, FGC Plasma Solutions from Case Western Reserve University and SOFI Automotive from Northwestern University.

About Atlas Energy Systems LLC

Atlas Energy Systems is a research and development company focused on converting nuclear energy into usable power in a novel way. The objective of Atlas is to develop a device that uses residual energy from spent nuclear fuel and recycle it into electricity.

About Clean Energy Trust

Clean Energy Trust fuels clean energy innovation in the Midwest. A Chicago-based nonprofit, CET helps launch, fund and grow Midwest clean energy companies to ensure a more prosperous, sustainable future for generations to come. CET does this through direct investment, commercialization assistance, mentorship, access to its broad partner network and the promotion of a supportive clean-energy community and business climate. For more information, visit www.cleanenergytrust.org.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org 

Writer: Hillary Henry, Purdue Research Foundation

Source: Josh Auger, 260-446-7007, josh.auger@atlasenergysystems.org 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org 

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