PolyGone one of five teams chosen to compete at the AquaHacking 2017 finals

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The AquaHacking 2017 semi-final competition unfolded last week at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI).

By the end of the evening, five teams were chosen to move on to the final competition at Waterloo on September 13th. It was a difficult decision for the five judges, as all 17 teams that competed offered innovative ideas that tackled the challenges and opportunities facing Lake Erie.  

PolyGone, one of five teams advancing to the Waterloo's AquaHacking finals in September 2017.Left to right: Raad Seraj, Senior Research Analysis at WaterTap, Rachel Baldwin, Lauren Smith, Claude Perras, Executive Director of the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation, Joanna Hausen, Sabrina Li, Lauren Yee, and Ken Seiling, Regional Chair of Waterloo

Rachel Baldwin, an MSc Earth Science student supervised by Prof. Carol Ptacek and part of the Collaborative Water Program, is a member of PolyGone, one of the finalists that is developing a product to capture microfibers that shed off clothing during the washing process.

The product is a sheet made of a fine filter with a polymer coating to attract microfibers as they float through the laundry water. Fibres make up 71% of the micro-plastic pollution in the Great Lakes, recently recognized as a growing problem for the region.

The team also includes Collaborative Water program students from other Faculties as well as undergraduates from the University of Waterloo: Joanna Hausen (BES, Environ., Enterprise and Development, 4A), Sabrina Li (MSc, Geography - water), Lauren Smith (MES '17 Sustainability Management - water), and Lauren Yee (BPH Health Studies, 3B).

The other winning teams are:

  • ImPONDerable – This team is developing Cyano Sleuth, a science monitoring kit and app that accesses spatial data on Lake Erie that tracks algae, harmful toxins and nutrients while delivering useful and relevant information to day-to-day users.
  • SIM Labs – They are developing a fast and robust way to not only automatically identify and enumerate different species of cyanobacteria, but also predict behavioural trends of harmful algae blooms.
  • Fertilizer Burn – The team is developing a mobile soil-testing lab and mobile application that will provide real-time, in-situ soil data that will help farmers reduce the volume of fertilizers from entering into water systems.
  • EMAGIN – A member of University of Waterloo’s Velocity garage, this team has developed a real-time event-management platform using articial intelligence that enhances municipal sewage collection infrastructure in order to minimize sewer overflow.

The five winners will move on to compete for a shared total of $75,000 in funding and access to local accelerators. Over the next two months, teams will further develop their ideas with the help from the Region of Waterloo, which has kindly donated $2000 to each team to help fund their efforts.

Join the Water Institute for the AquaHacking finals at Waterloo's Federation Hall on Wednesday, September 13th.