Like the Oscars for actors and the Grammys for musicians, Popular Mechanics' Breakthrough Awards is the event honoring and recognizing those who have reached beyond what was previously thought possible in the world of technology and product innovation. The 2011 award ceremony took place this past Monday and was, as one presenter put it, "like being a kid in a candy store" for us tech geeks. We were on the scene at Hearst Tower in NYC scoping out the futuristic menagerie of gadgets and gizmos, and were delighted to see that many of them had green features or applications. From Avatar director James Cameron's powerful 3D cameras to a type of glass that can remove contaminants from water to a wind turbine that flies, hit the jump for six groundbreaking green inventions we spotted at the awards.
We’ve written about Osorb before, but we were eager to see this miracle material in person. Made out of what is essentially glass, the substance acts like a nanomechanical sponge that absorbs petroleum, solvents and other toxins. Just think about the applications – from cleaning up oil spills to purifying water from frack sites to providing potable water to those who need it. Osorb’s creator, Paul Edmiston was on hand to explain how the material – which he explained he first made accidentally – works and even did a demonstration right before our eyes where he contaminated some water, introduced and then removed the Osorb, and then proceeded to drink the newly clean water!
WEST PHILLY HYBRID X TEAM
When we think about what we were doing when we were in high school (playing Super NES, possibly eating a sandwich?), it make us downright embarrassed to even stand next to the youngsters of the West Philly Hybrid X Team, who were also honored at the event. These talented 10th, 11th and 12th graders under the guidance of faculty advisor Simon Hauger spend their afternoons building and tweaking hybrid vehicles like this one that gets 160-MPGE. And get this – some of them can’t even drive yet!