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Novel solutions for sustainable, ultra-low emission production of concrete and electricity, a microbe-based fertilizer alternative, a cancer research innovation and a new approach to nanofiltration are the among winning concepts to be presented at Rutgers on Feb. 2 

Four East Coast “pioneers,” who are proposing radical new solutions to several global problems have been selected as finalists in the Solve for X: New Jersey campaign, part of Google’s global Solve for X initiative.

These pioneers will present their proposals known as “moonshots” to an audience of scientists, technologists, policy makers, venture capitalists and visionaries February 2 during an event on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. All four concepts employ breakthrough technologies that provide radical solutions to huge, global problems such as food and water shortages, harmful fertilizer runoff, pollution generated by industrial development and the intricacies of personalizing cancer treatment.

The four finalists were drawn from 24 innovators who gave presentations at recent events across the Northeast. Those 24 were chosen from an initial pool of 72 applicants. The feedback the scholars provide at the February 2 event will help these pioneers refine and accelerate progress on their solutions through commercial and noncommercial avenues.

The four Solve for X: New Jersey finalists are:

  • Lou Elwell, a South Jersey entrepreneur as well as co-founder and CEO of Bio Soil Enhancers, will describe his microbe-based fertilizer alternative called Sumagrow.  Elwell says his product remediates soil, increases crop yields, eliminates harmful chemical runoff and absorbs carbon dioxide from the environment.
  • Susan MacKay, a chemist from Maine and CEO of Cerahelix, will address her company’s efforts to “unravel the potential of nanofiltration.” Their approach uses DNA-based filters that can significantly increase the efficiency, efficacy and durability of water filtration devices.
  • Richard Riman, a distinguished professor at Rutgers and founder of Solidia Technologies® in Piscataway, will share a “Green Toolbox for Modernizing the World’s Infrastructure Sustainably.” His system will give communities in remote locations the ability to produce electricity, heat and concrete locally and sustainably via the co-utilization of carbonate-cement concrete technology and trash gasification technology.
  • Wenting Zhang, a doctoral student at Stevens Institute of Technology, will present a new platform for reconstructing patient-specific cancer models via the use of microfluidic devices.


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