THE PRODUCT SUMMIT: Design Thinking Innovation Challenge

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Design Thinking Innovation Challenge Abstract

People will collaborate in teams outside their domain expertise to implement the design thinking process on a real world problem provided by the inventors to arrive at a solution and present at end of day in front of judges.


How can we create awareness about the advantages of using clean gas burning technologies in the automotive industry to combat climate change?


Natural Gas and Climate Change

Natural gas is used as a heat source in the production of glass, steel, cement, bricks, ceramics, tile, paper, among many other commodities.  In 2013, the United States generated about 4,058 billion kilowatthours of electricity.  About 27% of the electricity generated was from natural gas.

The vast majority of CNG to date has come from fossil sources, but there are also renewable alternatives like bio-gas, also known as swamp gas, landfill gas, or digester gas—which is the gaseous product of anaerobic digestion of organic matter.

Maximizing efficiency in the burning of scarce resources such as gas translates into a significant decrease in the consumption of gas for the production process it will be utilized in. Also, reducing the volume of gas impacts positively on the output of green-house type emissions into the environment.


The Challenger

After many years of experience in the energy industry, Ulric and Teo Cantu, together with Ervin Torres, have developed a clean gas burning technology that serves as inspiration for the Innovation Challenge.

It was first developed for various industries such as steam generation (electricity), ceramics, rubber hose manufacturing, among others; but the creators have scaled-down their technology and adapted it to an automobile.

The CNG automobile market is rapidly growing and filled with various players that provide conversion kits (from gasoline to CNG).  Those kits have only been able to provide an out-put of miles per gallon just below what you can generate on gasoline. Initial tests indicate that they can have an out-put of miles per gallon of 8% to 20% greater utilizing CNG.  Also, their technology has proven to reduce the emissions of PPM of CO (carbon monoxide) in a 97.2% when using a 400 Horse Powered steam boiler.


Leading Questions

  • Which other industries use natural gas as energy source?
  • How to develop a business model starting from a patented technology?
  • Who to partner with, what go-to-market strategies can we use?
  • Triple bottom line (economic, social, environmental) considerations?
  • What other markets outside US to focus on?


Empathy Warm Up

Life of an American Truck Driver

Truckers share driving experience with the new 579 highway tractor powered by a Cummins ISX12 G natural gas engine.
Expect Diesel Work from Peterbilt’s Natural Gas 579

President Barack Obama Supports Interstate Natural Gas Fueled Trucking




The Innovation Challenge includes a workshop on the Design-Thinking approach to increase understanding and empathy with the needs, desires and insights of customers. It will expand the ability to identify and communicate opportunities for exciting innovative products and services. The first part of the workshop is to form teams, then empathize and rephrase the challenge, work on ideation and conceptualization, and finally present the solution concept.


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