December 21, 2009

Alcoa Prize: Winning projects from its 8th edition stand out because of the social issues they address and their low set-up costs

The Organizing Committee of the Alcoa Innovation in Aluminum Prize 2009 has just announced the winners of its 8th edition. The selected projects, including those that received honorable mention, distinguished themselves because of their socio-environmental concern, in addition to being low cost in set-up terms. These are simple and creative ideas that the whole of society can afford. Of the 312 entries received - an increase of 51% over last year – just 4 were awarded prizes in the Student & Professional categories, 2 of which were in the Recycling Management section and 2 in Products & Applications.

Recycling Management – In the Student category the winner was Giuliano Bergamin, a 3rd year student in the Chemical Engineering course at PUC-PR (Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná), with his project, Thermal Solar Desalinization Equipment. The objective of this equipment is to evaporate small quantities of salt water, using heat generated by the solar radiation falling on columns made out of aluminum cans. This is an alternative water treatment solution for coastal areas where none currently exists, such as in some cities in the Northeast of Brazil. In addition to being a low-cost project it can be assembled and handled by the community itself, once it has received some prior guidance. “I carefully read the regulations and I put forward a project that achieves the purpose of the Prize, which is to offer solutions and new technology that improve society and help those in need”, says Giuliano.

In the Professional category, on the other hand, the project elected was The Sustainable Recycling of Aluminum Blister Foil, by designer, Marcelo Jacomo Borghi. With the experience he has in the recycling area, Marcelo proposed transforming (pharmaceutical) aluminum blister packaging waste into four new products: shoes, furniture, construction signs and tiles. Satisfied with the result, he praises the importance of the Prize: “Without encouragement of the type offered by the Alcoa Prize, new ideas and projects like mine would not be possible”, Marcelo acknowledges.

Second place in the Student category went to the project, Preparation of zeolites from aluminum waste, by Eigor Renato Petry, a 3rd year student on the Industrial Chemistry course at the Integrated Regional University of Alto Uruguai and Missões. This is a solid adsorbent (that absorbs phases and vapors on the surface of solid bodies), known as Zeolyte A, made from aluminum waste. “I thought second place was great. I checked out the other editions and this subject had never been dealt with before”, he says.

One of the winners of the Alcoa Prize last year, with the project, ExaltaLuz, mechanical manufacturing technologist, Leandro Barsottini, won second place this year in the Professional category, with his work entitled Collecting and Reusing Rain Water, which comprises a system formed by gutters and tubes made from aluminum cans. The rainwater collected is used for toilets, watering plants, etc. “My project reveals a concern with the environment and focuses on sustainability”, is how he sums it up.

Products & Applications – Wall Coverings for Bathrooms, by Rogério Martins, a 4th year student on the Industrial Design course at UNIBAN (Bandeirante University of São Paulo), was the winning work in the Student category. The project consists in using an aluminum wall cladding product as a substitute for bathroom and kitchen tiles. According to Rogério, the great advantage is the ease with which hydraulic and electrical maintenance can be carried out, because the cladding hides pipes and electrical conduit. Rogério, who just this year alone has entered his idea in five competitions, was surprised with the result. “Anyone who is from the area knows how important the Prize is, how difficult it is to compete and the time necessary for preparing the project”, he says.

The Professional category was won by the project, The União Building, from architects, Marcos Leite Rosa and Kristine Stiphany. Their idea is to fix a new aluminum structure to the façade of the União Building, a derelict tenement block located in the Bom Retiro district in São Paulo. Their aim is to improve the quality of life of the residents while having a minimum impact on the life of those who live there and causing the minimum possible environmental impact. Instead of demolishing and reconstructing the building, which would have an environmental impact and cost more, the project provides for applying a “second skin” to the building, which would be responsible for its retrofit. According to Marcos, the objective of the work was to show that it was possible to have a template for a place that receives little attention and where people live in squalid conditions. “We were very happy with the result of the Prize, because we know how important it is in the market. It is also important to discuss new policies and debate the issues of derelict tenement blocks”, says Marcos.

Sílvia Resende Xavier, a 3rd year student in the Design course at the State University of Minas Gerais, won second place in the Student category, with her Project Nexus, a modular system that makes it possible to create decorative objects, such as photo or message panels, screens and fruit bowls made from aluminum. According to Silvia the project is very market-oriented. “I was very happy with the result. Design is an important tool when it comes to developing new products”, says Sílvia. 

The Iguaçu Shower project, from designer Henrique José Serbena, was second in the Professional category. The Iguaçu shower, made from aluminum, is a curved, bathroom fitting, the shape of which was inspired by the bends in the river [Iguaçu], which has three types of jet. In addition to the shower project Henrique entered another piece of work this year. “My work is developing products and I entered both the Iguaçu Shower and an aluminum bench project. I was happy and surprised with the result”, says Henrique, who also praised the organization of the Prize.

Honorable mentions
Student Edson da Silva Xavier, from the post-graduate course in Jewelry Design at the State University of Minas Gerais, received an honorable mention for his Stampa project. The work suggests that aluminum recycling communities should create high added value, quality jewelry. According to he project’s creator, his proposal is to melt and cast the aluminum, creating items that may compete on an equal footing with industrialized products from the jewelry sector. “I’m satisfied to have received honorable mention for a design project that has a social focus”, says Edson.

Also in the Student category, a team of students from the State University of Pará received honorable mention for their work, Colloidal Compost Maker – Recycling aluminum and waste. Érika Castilho Brasil, Francinaldo Oliveira Matos, Pedro Coelho de Rezende Neto (2nd year students on the Environmental Engineering course), Bento Gustavo de Sousa Pimentel and Hernan Gonçalves Sandres (1st year Design students) developed a project for a composting unit, called the ColoidAI, the structure of which is predominantly made from aluminum from recycled cans; the objective is to transform household organic waste into fertilizer. “The result and recognition of our work, with honorable mention, is reason for the whole team to be happy”, says Érika. 

In the Products & Application section, Student category, the Tulip Drinking Fountain project was recognized. This is a piece of academic work by students Felix Vieira Varejão Neto, João Gabriel P. Falcão and Rafael Pastorin Garib.from the Federal University of Paraná. The new drinking fountain can be installed at varying heights on walls or on a standard height pedestal, suitable for areas in the open. Furthermore, it supplies both cold and hot water for preparing soups, for example. “It was exhausting work that required two months of adaptations for the Prize, but it was worth it”, says Félix.

The TIJ-Vitro project, from civil engineer, Ademar Alves do Santos Filho, was considered for honorable mention in the Professional category. According to Ademar, the TIJ-Vitro is a brick that can be fabricated from aluminum, which enables blocks to be made in the most widely varying shapes: square, round, triangular, diamond-shaped,etc. “I’m happy to have been classified and recognized by the Alcoa Prize”, says Ademar, who has already patented his project.

Prize award committee – On the judging committee that considered the entries in the Products & Applications section were Auresnede Pires Stephan, from the Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation, Santa Marcelina School and the Higher School of Propaganda and Marketing; Claudio Parra De Lazzari, from ABM (Brazilian Association of Metallurgy, Materials and Mining); Gilberto Belleza, from Belleza and Batalha Architects; and Jorge Gallo and Reginaldo Otsu, from Alcoa. The committee members in the Recycling Management section, were José Roberto Giosa, from latasa Reciclagem; Jozeti Barbutti Gatti, from CETEA (Food Technology Center of ITAL); Saburo Ikeda, from the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo; and Luiz Monegatto and Luiz Rosa from Alcoa.

Prizes – The student or team indicated by the Prize Award Committee as the creator of the best work in each section receives R$ 9,000 and a trophy, while the professor-tutor receives R$ 5,000, a trophy and a diploma. The teaching institution attended by the prize-winner will receive teaching equipment worth R$ 5,000. The second placed in each category receives R$ 3,000, a trophy and a diploma. The tutors for these latter pieces of work win a palm top, a diploma and a trophy.

The professionals classified in first place have the right to a prize worth R$11,000, a trophy and a diploma in both sections. The second place in each section receives R$ 4,000, a trophy and a diploma.

About Alcoa
Alcoa is the world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina combined, through its active and growing participation in all major aspects of the industry. Alcoa serves the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation and industrial markets, bringing design, engineering, production and other capabilities of Alcoa's businesses to customers. In addition to aluminum products and components including flat-rolled products, hard alloy extrusions, and forgings, Alcoa also markets Alcoa® wheels, fastening systems, precision and investment castings, and building systems. The Company has been named one of the top most sustainable corporations in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and has been a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for eight consecutive years. Alcoa employs approximately 63,000 people in 31 countries across the world. More information can be found at