What if we could make affordable food by farming crickets, help shoppers to reduce food waste, or turn air into drinking water?
These are just some of the questions that inspired the five team finalists of Shell Ideas360, a global competition that challenges students to think about innovative ways to conserve the world’s energy, water and food supplies.
“We wanted to give people in dry areas easier access to clean water,” says Avtar Rekhi, who comes from Kenya and is studying mechanical engineering in London. His team invented a system that extracts drinkable water from moisture in the air using natural air circulation and solar-heated domes.
Other students who reached the final designed a model cricket farm to provide protein and income for people in countries where nourishing food is scarce, and a device that can remove toxic levels of fluoride from water supplies in rural Africa and Asia.
The 2014/15 competition winners – Team Renaissance from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore - designed an app called Food Basket, which aims to help households reduce food waste. The app allows people to track the expiry dates on their groceries and suggests recipes for items that are approaching their use-by date.
“1.3 billion tonnes of food goes to waste each year, costing the average household $1,500 annually in waste,” says team member Alex Chen. “We think the Food Basket app can help to reduce that.”