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Nanoengineer Wins Award for New Biofuel Cells Technology

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Joshua Windmiller, a Ph.D. candidate in nanoengineering, won second place in the Triton Greenovation Network Challenge.

San Diego, Calif., Dec. 21 -- Small, inexpensive biofuel cells that power smart tiny medical sensors are what Joshua Windmiller, a Ph.D. student at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, is after. Windmiller recently took second-place overall and the Audience Choice Award at a green technology contest on the UC San Diego campus, co-organized by the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

It’s not Windmiller’s first accolade. He is a Gordon Scholar and Fellow in engineering leadership. He also was part of a team that won the 2007-08 UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge. He has six U.S. patents pending.

He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Nanoengineering Professor Joseph Wang, who leads the Laboratory for NanoBioElectronics, widely considered one of the world’s foremost authorities in the development of electrochemical sensors and nanomachines.

The latest competition he was taking part in, the Triton Greenovation Network Challenge, seeks to accelerate the commercialization of novel, environmentally focused technologies.

“The goal was to provide student participants with the skills to transform promising technologies into innovative products that will help create jobs, boost American competitiveness and strengthen our economy,” said program co-founder Lada Rasochova.

Windmiller has already successfully developed prototypes of small, biofuel cells that can be printed using high-throughput and low-cost screen-printing, roll-to-roll and inkjet techniques. The cells can process a wide variety of biofuels including glucose and alcohol (in whole blood), lactate (in perspiration) and uric acid (in urine). His ultimate goal is to pair the cells with smart sensors for which they provide power. He has worked with the von Liebig Center on this project.

“The developments that have been made by my team and I under the guidance of Dr. Wang are certainly game-changing,” said Windmiller. “Never before have biofuel cells been able to achieve the ideal combination of power density, operational lifetime, cost-effectiveness and compatibility with high-throughput manufacturing.”

This new biofuel cell platform encompasses wide-ranging implications in the power generation, healthcare, fitness and combat domains, which serve to underscore the technology’s substantial commercial potential, Windmiller said. His team will continue to seek external funding opportunities, such as the Triton Greenovation Network Challenge, in order to further develop and optimize their devices as they venture down the path of product development and commercialization.

“It is our aim to be another UC San Diego success story,” Windmiller said. 

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Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-822-0899
ipatrin@ucsd.edu

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