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29 Mar 2023

Hong Kong startup wins US$1-million top prize at second TERA-Award with “electricity-free cooling technology”

 (29 March 2023) The results of the second TERA-Award Smart Energy Innovation Competition, co-organised by The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited (“Towngas”) and the State Power Investment Corporation Limited (“SPIC”), have been announced. The Hong Kong startup company i2Cool won the Gold Award with their “electricity-free cooling technology”, receiving prize money of US$1 million.
The Silver Award went to the SPIC Research Institute of Smart Energy Company Limited, the State Key Laboratory of Clean Energy Utilisation of Zhejiang University, and the Key Laboratory of Low-grade Energy Utilisation Technologies & Systems of the Ministry of Education of Chongqing University, for their efforts in the “CO2 reduction with microalgae from coal-fired flue gas” project. HydroPro New Energy Corporation was given the Bronze Award in recognition of their “Hydropro” project. The two teams were awarded US$100,000 and US$50,000 respectively.
The second TERA-Award Award Presentation Ceremony was held in a physical format yesterday. i2Cool, a Hong Kong startup company, stood out among 275 entries from 41 countries and regions and emerged as the winner. Their “electricity-free cooling technology” is a zero-energy cooling/heat-dissipating paint that can be applied to architectural coatings, wall tiles and even fabrics. Experiments have shown that the roofs surface temperature of buildings in Hong Kong can be reduced from 60°C to 30°C during the daytime when the paint is applied, and it is estimated that all buildings in Hong Kong could reduce carbon emissions by 600,000 tonnes every year by applying this paint.
Dr Martin Zhu, the co-founder of i2Cool, said that their research was inspired by a species of African silver ants that can survive in the desert at a temperature as high as 60°C. Its hair structure has a unique triangular shape that reflects most of the sunlight and dissipates heat like a mirror. The i2Cool team has imitated the hair structure of the silver ants by using a mixture of nanoparticles to produce an external wall coating with a solar heat reflectivity of 95%. The coating also emits indoor heat with a 95% mid-infrared emissivity, thus greatly reducing the power consumption of air conditioners.
Dr Zhu thanked the Competition organisers for the Gold Award, which he considered a great support to the popularisation of their research results. i2Cool plans to invest in a factory for the “one-stop” production of related products so that the results can be widely applied among the public.
The Silver Award-winning project uses microalgae for carbon reduction. This project converts carbon dioxide into economically valuable biomass by improving algae strains and using highly efficient photobioreactors. With the new technology, carbon sequestration and algal powder production are five to ten times higher than with the old technology. The carbon sequestered biomass can be used to produce nutritional foods, functional feeds and organic fertilisers, bringing significant economic, environmental and social benefits.
The Bronze Award-winning project, HydroPro, is a next-generation hydrogen generation system with a higher efficiency than existing green hydrogen technology. It boasts an electricity-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of over 80% and a significantly lower cost, which can help accelerate the application of green hydrogen, a clean energy source, in a wide range of industries.
Dr Lee Ka-kit, Chairman of Towngas, revealed that this year’s participating teams came from 18 more countries and regions than the previous edition, an increase of nearly 80%, showing that the impact and global reach of the Competition have reached new heights. “The winner will not only receive investment from Towngas, but will also have the opportunity to receive support in its zero-carbon smart industrial parks as an energy storage application scenario. The inclusion of application scenarios is what sets the TERA-Award Competition apart from the rest and what entrepreneurs are lacking most.” He added that Towngas would also launch the third edition of the Competition in collaboration with the SPIC, and look forward to more entrepreneurs and scientists joining forces to protect the planet.
Mr Qian Zhimin, the Chairman of the SPIC, congratulated the Competition on the new breakthroughs achieved. He said that in the transition from fossil to non-fossil energy sources, the power of technological innovation has a profound impact on the ability to develop and utilise renewable energy sources, and it has become a key point in the energy transition of all the countries. He added that the SPIC is willing to work closely with industry leaders such as Towngas in various areas of innovation, providing an abundance of application scenarios for the award-winning projects, accelerating the application of innovations, and jointly contributing to the achievement of China’s “30-60” goals.
In his speech, the Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Tse Chin-wan, mentioned, “To combat the adverse impacts of climate change, the Government has set out four major decarbonisation strategies, namely net-zero electricity generation, energy saving and green buildings, green transport and waste reduction, under Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2050 to tackle major sources of carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. I am thankful that all the participants of the Towngas TERA-Award Competition have devised innovative smart energy breakthroughs with a view to discovering visionary technology and solutions to drive the development of the energy industry and the construction of smart cities, which are of paramount importance to meet the carbon neutrality target.”
A new award category, Rising Stars, and a pioneer award were introduced at the second TERA-Award to encourage more innovative submissions. Towngas will provide strategic investment or application scenarios with resource-matching services for all award-winning projects to accelerate their implementation.
The second TERA-Award Smart Energy Innovation Competition continued with the theme of “Exploring Zero-Carbon Innovations for the Future” to discover innovative technologies and solutions for smart energy around the world and to contribute to the country’s “30-60” dual carbon goals.
- END -
Winners List of the 2nd TERA-Award Smart Energy Innovation Competition
Award Project Company/Organisation Country / Region
Gold Award Electricity-free cooling technology i2Cool Limited Hong Kong
Silver Award CO2 reduction with microalgae from coal-fired flue gas The SPIC Research Institute of Smart Energy Company Limited,

The State Key Laboratory of Clean Energy Utilisation of Zhejiang University,
The Key Laboratory of Low-grade Energy Utilisation Technologies & Systems of the Ministry of Education of Chongqing University
Bronze Award HydroPro HydroPro New Energy Corporation China
Pioneer Award The world’s leading provider of total calcium-titanium ore solar cells solutions Jingbi You Research Team of Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of Sciences China
Next-Generation Printed Solar Energy HKTech Solar, Ltd Hong Kong
OceanHydro Omni Hydro Wind Energy, Inc. United Arab Emirates
Rising Star Precise separation and high-value utilisation of spent lithium-ion batteries Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School China
New carbon capture industrial environmental treatment technology Tianjin Hermos Technology Co., Ltd. China
Merit Solid Oxide Cell Technology Toward Dual Carbon Strategy H2-Bank China
The research development and real world applications of key components of the proton exchange membrane fuel cells Hytekocean / Institute of New Energy of Shanghai Academy of Science & Technology China
Solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC) hydrogen production system which also supports carbon utilisation Swift New Energy China
High-safety aqueous zinc-based battery Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences China
Low-Cost Photosynthetic 1-Butanol Production From Carbon Dioxide Emissions Phytonix Corporation United States
Next-Ion Next-Ion United States
Cambrian Batteries - Biofuel Carbon Battery that can charge 10 x faster and last for more than 30 years PJP Eye LTD. Japan
Digital Metallisation of Solar Cells PV Nano Cell Israel
Press photos:
Photo 1:

Guests including Dr Lee Ka-kit (7th from right, front row), Chairman of Towngas; Mr Qian Zhimin (6th from left, front row), Chairman of SPIC; Professor Cui Yi (6th from right, front row), Chief Judge of TERA-Award 2022; Mr Peter Wong Wai-yee (5th from left, front row), Managing Director of Towngas; Mr John Ho Hon-ming (5th from right, front row), Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary of Towngas, in a group photo with the award winners.

Photo 2:

At the Award Presentation Ceremony, Dr Lee Ka-kit, Chairman of Towngas, encourages the winners to continue to develop innovative technologies in smart energy to help the country achieve its “30-60” dual carbon goals.

Photo 3:

Mr Qian Zhimin, Chairman of SPIC, believes that the Competition has uncovered a number of innovative projects that contribute to environmental protection and low-carbon development.

Photo 4:

Mr Tse Chin-wan, Secretary for Environment and Ecology, thanks all the participants of the TERA-Award for their innovative breakthroughs in the field of smart energy and for promoting the development of the energy industry and smart city construction.

Photo 5:

Dr Lee Ka-kit (2nd from left), Chairman of Towngas, and Mr Qian Zhimin (1st from right), Chairman of SPIC, present the Gold Award to the representatives of i2Cool Limited.

Photo 6:

Professor Cui Yi (left), Chief Judge of TERA-Award 2022, presents the award to the Silver Award winner.

Photo 7:

Professor Cui Yi (left), Chief Judge of TERA-Award 2022, presents the award to the Bronze Award winner.

Photo 8:

Mr Peter Wong Wai-yee (centre), Managing Director of Towngas, presents the “Rising Star” and “Pioneer Award” of the 2nd TERA-Award to the winners.

Photo 9:

Mr Alan Chan Ying-lung (2nd from right), Chief Investment Officer of Towngas, presents the Merit Award of the 2nd TERA-Award to the winners.

Photo 10:

Professor Lu Yi-chun, Co-Founder of Luquos Energy, Bronze Award winner of the inaugural TERA-Award, says at the Award Presentation Ceremony that since winning the award, she has received support in the forms of strategic investment and application scenarios from Towngas to accelerate the implementation of her project.

Photo 11:

Rooftops coated with “electricity-free cooling technology” paint, the Gold Award-winning project, can significantly reflect heat and reduce the energy consumption of the buildings for cooling.

Photo 12:

The Silver Award-winning project, “CO2 reduction with microalgae from coal-fired flue gas”, uses vertical photobioreactors to convert carbon dioxide into high-economic-value biomass.

Photo 13:

HydroPro, the Bronze Award-winning project, uses high-performance electrolyte powder as an electric pile to produce hydrogen with higher efficiency than existing green hydrogen technology.
For media enquiries, please contact:
The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited
Mr Addie Lam
Assistant General Manager –
Corporate Affairs
Tel: 2963 2578 / 6702 6449
Ms Kara Kwong
Senior Corporate Communications Officer
Tel: 2963 3497 / 6698 3357