Who invented Green technology?

This article continues our Earth Day 2013 series with a look at the IPO Inventor of the Year Awards.

Four times over the past nine years the has recognized inventors of green technologies as the Inventor of the Year. This trend is certainly not accidental given the growing interest in green technologies and the increased importance they will play as the global economy shifts from a carbon-based energy platform to more sustainable and environmentally friendly sources of energy.

Of course, we are many years away from a totally renewable energy economy. While there are some that are working on the “home run” solutions, many others work on important incremental advances. These incremental advances are what the patent system thrives on and particularly incentivizes. As you can see below, 3 of the 4 green technologies recognized by the IPO over the past decade relate to reducing energy consumption. The other relates to cleaning water, which saves lives in third-world and developing countries. Indeed, there are numerous ways to be green!

Will the IPO continue its recent trend and recognize a green innovation in 2013, making 5 out of the last 10 years a celebration of environmentally friendly technologies? That is at least in part up to the community. The IPO is currently looking for nominations for the 2013 Inventor of the Year Award, which will be handed out in a ceremony in Washington, DC, in December 2013. The nomination deadline is May 15, 2013.

2004: Air and fuel supply system for combustion engine

The 2004 IPO National Inventor of the Year Award was given to James R. Weber and Scott A. Leman from Caterpillar Inc. for their development of one of the core technologies that comprise Caterpillar’s ACERT® diesel engine technology. Weber and Leman invented an air and fuel supply system that is designed to significantly reduce diesel emissions, which was embodied in U.S. Patent No. 6, 688, 280, which issued on February 10, 2004.

Weber and Leman invented an advanced air management system that couples precise valve control and series turbochargers to provide optimal quantities of cool, clean air to the combustion chamber. The introduction of this air lowers the temperature of combustion and reduces the formation of emissions at the point of combustion rather than downstream in the exhaust. A novel variable valve actuation device influences valve events at various engine loads and speeds, thereby enabling airflow that is tailored to yield best possible emissions and fuel economy for each operating condition. This invention combined with advanced fuel systems, engine electronics and after-treatment processes make up ACERT® technology.

By the end of 2003, Caterpillar had begun outfitting all of its on-highway truck and bus engines with ACERT® technology. Caterpillar was the first engine builder to offer diesel engines certified and compliant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2004 standards.

2006: Water treatment compositions

The 2006 IPO National Inventor of the Year Award was given to Philip Frank Souter and Colin Ure from Procter & Gamble Co. for their development of PuR® Purifier of Water Sachets. Each small sachet is capable of purifying 10 liters of water by pulling dirt, organic matter, heavy metals, spores, and other contaminants out of non-potable water. The product is inexpensive and simple to use. The technology underlying this innovation is represented in U.S. Patent No. 6, 827, 874.

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