Tata Center team wins IDEAS Global Challenge

Navi-Chem’s reactors for converting solid waste into high-value chemicals named one of MIT’s most promising projects for the developing world.


Read the full story on MIT News.

A team led by Tata Center postdoc Devin Currie and Tata Fellow Sagar Chakraborty has won the Grand Prize at the 2015 IDEAS Global Challenge. Their project is a reactor that uses microbes to process solid waste, turning it into high-value chemicals.

“We’re diverting waste from landfills to a usable product,” Currie told MIT News. They are working with a team at IIT Bombay and focusing their efforts in India, where waste management is a huge problem.

In its 14-year history, the IDEAS Global Challenge has awarded more than $650,000 to ventures that aim to improve quality of life in developing countries. Using this early-stage platform, those ventures have gone on to raise more than $17 million and have “affected hundreds of thousands of people” in 43 countries.

In addition to deploying large-scale reactors in India, the team “plans to use the $10,000 to develop a small reactor for MIT that could potentially convert the Institute’s food waste into valuable acids,” according to the MIT News report.

The IDEAS Global Challenge is an initiative of the MIT Public Service Center.

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Photo by John Kennard.