Falling Walls Challenge

28 September, 2015


Ph.D. candidate Joline El-Chakhtoura (advisor: Dr. Hans Vrouwenvelder) won the runner-up prize at the Falling Walls Challenge. Falling Walls was established in Berlin in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in an effort to inspire people all over the world to come together and break down the walls we face today. It is a challenging, interdisciplinary format for young people to present their breakthrough ideas and initiatives in a mere three minutes to a high-profile panel of judges from science and business. The competition finalists were evaluated based on three factors: breakthrough, impact and performance. 

Joline’s presentation, “Breaking the Wall of Waste-to-Energy”, addressed two walls: clean, decentralized energy and safe, treated waste. As 1/3 of the total food grown today is thrown away and organics often reach 70% of the waste stream in developing countries, Joline tested food leftovers as a feed in microbial fuel cells, generating direct electricity and achieving significant organic treatment. This winning idea was part of her Master’s thesis which was supervised by Dr. Pascal Saikaly. ​