If challenged to quiet the loud auxiliary power unit on a large Abrams tank to protect our war fighters would minute carbon nanotubes immediately come to mind? Probably not but that is exactly the solution that Dr. Andrew Barnard will be presenting at the finals of the 9th Annual Global Automotive & Mobility Innovation Challenge (GAMIC) taking place at the SAE World Congress in the Cobo Center, Detroit on April 4, 2017. He successfully competed in the semi-final round on February 23. The technology is based on using a thin film of carbon nanotubes as a thermophone. That is a loudspeaker that makes sound using surface temperature variation instead of a moving diaphragm. That means no moving parts, which results in higher reliability. Carbon nanotubes make this possible because they can oscillate their surface temperature almost instantaneously to produce canceling sound waves.
Barnard was encouraged to participate in GAMIC through his involvement in Michigan Tech’s MTRAC (Michigan Translational Research & Commercialization) program for Applied Advanced Materials. MTRAC is sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Strategic Fund to help University faculty fast-track their technology to a commercial stage. MTRAC Commercialization Program Director John Diebel said “Andrew’s technology seemed like an excellent fit within the scope of transportation technologies GAMIC wanted to showcase and support. There is a lot of potential recognition and follow-on support to be gained by the exposure Andrew can get presenting at the SAE Congress so he was game to compete.” Diebel also noted that “Preparation alone for such an event can be very helpful as it forces an inventor to think a little deeper about the customer perspective on the technology and how to communicate the benefits. These competitions better prepare our faculty for success in obtaining development funding.”
GAMIC organizers link each semi-finalist with mentors who help them prepare for the competition. These mentors have wide contacts in the automotive industry who can provide general networking support besides just helping to refine an inventor’s message. Barnard was coached by John Diebel, Steve Tokarz Michigan Tech Mentor-In-Residence, Christophe Gaillard Principal engineer at Tier 1 automotive supplier Aisin and Michael Brooks a consultant in business development for material based technologies.
Besides a cash award and in-kind business development services, winners of the final competition in four categories will present to automotive manufacturers and suppliers at the SAE TechHub on April 6th in Detroit. More information on GAMIC can be found at this link.