27 May 2024 10:27

Experiential Marketing

UAE Students tackle pressures on water, energy and food resources in the Shell Ideas360 competition

Last year, 668 student teams from 44 countries entered Shell Ideas360, making the global student competition’s inaugural year a huge success. The competition connects students to develop ideas which tackle the pressures on the world’s water, energy and food resources and allows them the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded innovators and connect with Shell experts. There were five finalists during last year’s competition, among which was a group of UAE students from McGill University and Concordia University in Canada.

Sami Sayegh, a 21-year-old UAE National studying at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, had such an idea. Thinking back to his schooldays in the UAE, he recalled a desert survival technique used by travelling Bedouin tribesmen. They would collect dew each morning from a water-resistant tarpaulin, enough for a litre or two of water to drink. Sami wanted to find a way to use the same technique but on a much larger scale to benefit communities with little access to clean water. 

He worked on the idea with fellow students Charles Gedeon and Al-Hurr Al-Dalli of nearby Concordia University. Together, they submitted it to Shell Ideas360, a global competition for university students to develop ideas for tackling energy, food and water issues.

Their idea consists of a large sail with a water-resistant coating that condenses moisture in the air into droplets of water. The water trickles down the sail into a funnel where it is filtered and ready to drink. The idea is simple, sustainable and inexpensive. A single sail with an area of 42 square metres might produce as much as 84 litres of water a day.

Shell Ideas360 looks for novel ideas to address pressing issues around the world’s water, energy and food systems. Water is often needed to extract energy and generate power; energy is needed to treat and transport water; and both water and energy are needed to grow food. Meanwhile, growing populations, climate change and increased resource demands add further stress to the water-energy-food nexus.

“It’s been a very positive experience,” says Sami Sayegh. “It’s given us the opportunity to do a lot of things for the first time. We’ve had to take the idea all the way from initial proposal to presenting it to, and fielding questions from, a panel of expert judges at the finals.”

Commenting on the competition, Gerald Schotman, Shell Chief Technology Officer, says: “At Shell, we understand the importance of continuous innovation and the development of ever-smarter technologies. In order to solve many of the key challenges in the energy industry we need to constantly evolve and learn.”

Schotman adds that “Universities, including the vibrant and exploratory community of students, are amongst the key centres where ground-breaking ideas are unleashed and new solutions and technologies are launched on a daily basis. Shell recognises that and sees new partnerships as a great way to continue to push the innovation envelope and jointly shape the future.”

The Shell Ideas360 competition returns this year and will be held in three stages: formulating the idea, developing it, and finally pitching it in the Netherlands in 2015. Successful teams have the opportunity of pitching their ideas to Shell executives as well as a chance to attend the Shell Eco-Marathon competition in Rotterdam; and the winning team receives a National Geographic adventure of their choice.

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