Invention

UBC Post-Doctoral Entrepreneur Invention Wins Nearly $ 2 Million Royals Elon Musk Award

Three MiniTorrs are currently in service in India

THE The invention of reducing emissions by burning waste by a postdoctoral chemical and biological engineering student at UBC now has royal recognition and attention from one of Earth’s most influential billionaires.

Kevin Kung, co-founder, president and technical director of start-up Takachar, and his partner Vidyut Mohan (co-founder and CEO), were recently awarded an Earthshot Prize in the Clean Air category, worth 1 million of pounds sterling. , as well as another US $ 250,000, or the equivalent of C $ 1.9 million in total, in the student carbon dioxide removal demonstration category of the XPrize and Musk Foundation, founded by Elon Musk .

The Earthshot Prize is awarded by the Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Prince William and Kate Middleton.

“I am truly surprised, very touched and honored to receive these awards, and I am grateful for the tremendous attention they are giving to the issue of tailings combustion,” Kung says.

Kung is currently in phase 3 of [email protected]and is in the process of relocating Takachar’s research and development center to Vancouver from San Francisco. the [email protected] The program helps students, faculty, staff and alumni lead projects at an early stage from infancy through to fruition.

Recent awards have been given to what Kung and Mohan have dubbed the “MiniTorr”.

The MiniTorr is an inexpensive, small-scale portable machine that uses roasting to more easily turn biomass (e.g. crop residues) into salable bioproducts, such as fuel and fertilizers.

Where crop and forest residues are often wet, bulky, and expensive to collect and transport to central conversion facilities, the MiniTorr can fit in a van and go straight to the waste.

As Kung explains, many farmers burn their crop residues, which has devastating effects on the climate and human health from smoke pollution or providing fuel to fuel catastrophic forest fires.

Using MiniTorr to turn local waste into fertilizer means that farmers can improve their crop yields and invest the money in their daily operations, while reducing carbon emissions, improving the quality of the crop. air and reducing the risk of forest fires.

“We want this technology to be a one-stop-shop for communities to create bioeconomies, reduce waste and grow in a self-reliant fashion that does not depend on the centralized biomass conversion model,” says Kung.

Three MiniTorrs are currently in service in India and two are being tested in California.

The goal, says Kung, is to use the prize money to develop the technology and test its application in other areas such as logging waste conversion, forest fire management, and agriculture. in British Columbia.

Kung, 35, was born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver where he graduated from Sir Winston Churchill High School. He then pursued post-secondary studies at Princeton, Cambridge University and finally the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy in Biofuels and Renewable Energy in 2017. He plans to complete his postdoctoral studies at UBC in next june.

He sees his early childhood in Taiwan as a key motivation for working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants.

“When I was little, I grew up next to paddy fields and remember when farmers burned the stubble left after harvesting, which caused air quality problems locally,” he says.

“There will always be a nostalgic element to the smoke and the smell in the air, but looking back, those memories now have very different connotations.”

He adds, “I wouldn’t want my kids to have that kind of memory. “

For more information on [email protected], go to www.entrepreneuriat.ubc.California.