(UG3) Creating Replacements for Single-Use Plastics in the Cuenca Soup Kitchen

The Cuenca Soup Kitchen aims to be an environmentally conscious operation by reducing plastic waste. Through interviewing volunteers and observing their operations, we found that plastic bags used to package rice, produce, salt, and sugar lead to high plastic waste. We developed processes for creating reusable bags from single-use bags for the rice and produce and identified how to reuse plastic water bottles for salt and sugar. These recommendations will save the Cuenca Soup Kitchen over $900 per year as well as prevent them from using over 18,200 single-use bags per year.

(GR9) Rare Earth Metal Recycling Using a Novel, Low-cost Distillation Technology

We are perfecting a technology that will extract rare earth metals from magnet scrap because rare earth metals are in short supply in the United States. 95% of rare earth metal production is carried out in China, and right now, there are no U.S. producers. The only non-Chinese producers are Estonia, Vietnam, and Thailand- a small market.

We are looking to build a start-up in the U.S. to fill the vacuum, and part of our research is to prove that out.