What if we could use water in solar water heaters to supply electricity during power outages? That was the winning idea in a recent hackathon that challenged brilliant Technion students to develop solutions to cope with extreme heat waves in urban areas. It’s something that is critically important, since Israel is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world and heat-related deaths are also on the rise.

The competition launched two weeks prior to the hackathon event with a lecture by Naama Shapira of the Technion’s Samuel Neaman Institute that was focused on mapping challenges in the event of extreme heat waves, covering the environmental and social ramifications on urban residents. More than 50 students from a variety of faculties divided into 11 teams took part.

The winning idea was developed by the SOLARit team. By connecting a heat engine to existing solar water heaters, they made it possible to utilize heat from the water to produce local energy for a home’s refrigerator and air-conditioning system during power outages. The team included five students from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering: Yoav Ronen, Ester Konstantinov, Andrei Serenko, Noy Winetraub, and Neta Soto. SOLARit will represent the Technion at the upcoming Green Challenge, an international sustainability hackathon taking place in Denmark later this month.

The second-place team was Eco Shade, which created a social-environmental initiative to set up cooling systems in public transportations stations. They did so through the use of plants attached to manual water pumps. The team was comprised of students from the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering.

Third place went to the Keep it Cool team for their application that helps transport disadvantaged populations to safe spaces during emergencies. The app connects its users to government support services to expedite the aid process. The team included students from both the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

The hackathon was organized by t-hub – the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center – and was a collaboration between the Technion’s Sustainability Center, the Social Hub, and the Technion Student Association. The students were mentored by numerous faculty members and industry executives and were judged by professors from varying faculties.