Sebastian Husein, a scholar in the Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies National Science Foundation-Department of Energy Engineering Research Center, won the NSF’s Perfect Pitch competition at their biennial meeting. This marks the second straight time that a QESST student from Assistant Professor Mariana Bertoni’s group has won the $5,000 prize and brought back the Lynn Preston trophy.
Husein, a materials science and engineering doctoral student in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, had only 90 seconds to pitch his idea of deploying PV modules to places with interrupted infrastructure, but that was enough time to win over the panel of judges.
“The idea really sprung out of the hurricanes that hit Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico,” Husein said. “It’s a massive humanitarian crisis, especially in Puerto Rico, and the largest needs became obvious very quickly: power and drinkable water. I wanted to highlight an idea that could address both these issues, and the versatility of solar energy is well suited for that.”
Husein titled his idea “Solar Optimized Kit for Emergency Deployment.” This deployable floating platform with bifacial solar cells produces energy, even under cloudy conditions, and acts as emergency aid for areas affected by floods and hurricanes. The energy created runs a water purification system, essential for disaster aftermath.
His mentor and professor Mariana Bertoni, along with the DEfECT Lab, worked with Husein to develop his idea and perfect his presentation.