UNLV Students Earn Award, Help Fight Covid One Breath at a Time

These are, indeed, challenging times, and challenging times call for innovation–and dare we say–Excellence. Two UNLV engineering students and a graduate from Cal-Berkeley teamed to be one of five recognized with a grant from a UNLV-based and international competition. –By Brian Hurlburt, Host, Magnifying Excellence Podcast.

To inspire innovators to find ways to combat Covid-19 and to help Las Vegas businesses and the hospitality industry, Greg and Ernest Lee, trustees of the Ted and Doris Lee Family Foundation, together with the University of Nevada at Las Vegas Lee Business School Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, created a $1 million competition. One of the companies earning recognition was Promethium. In 2018, UNLV students Xavier Morgan-Lange and Devon Scheg, along with UC Berkeley graduate Daniel Werth, began developing a high-volume and scalable purification system for businesses. As a result, the company earned $250,000 from the Lee prize.

From UNLV.edu:

Promethium purifies the air combining HEPA filtration, UVC lamps, and cutting-edge photocatalysts — a type of semiconductor that helps disperse and neutralize airborne impurities, including viruses. 

A standard HEPA filter can purify 400 rooms. Using the same amount of energy Promethium’s tech can purify 4,000. The air purifier is scalable with the ability to clean the air in spaces as small as an airplane to as large as a stadium or hotel. 

In addition to air filtration systems, Promethium is looking to the future and creating similar technology for water filtration and hydrogen fuel generation. Promethium expects to have their current air filtration technology to market by spring.

Said Morgan-Lange:

“We have been working on something that quite literally addresses the issues we are facing because of the coronavirus. That has lit a fire under us to make this happen. The time is now to fulfill our mission of helping people.”

The Lee prize was inspired by Covid-19 and as a way to find a path to allowing the Las Vegas business and hospitality industry to get back to normalcy as soon as possible.

According to the UNLV.edu article, Greg Lee, CEO of Eureka Casino Resort, had a first-hand understanding of what was facing the hospitality industry.

“This was uncharted territory for everyone, but we knew we couldn’t sit back and wait for someone else to push for a solution. Even when the pandemic first began, we knew businesses would re-open again but the question we were wrestling with was how,” Lee said. “We saw this as an opportunity for the Lee Business School to bring the right people together to create the innovation necessary to make it safe for people to travel and play again.”

The Full Promethium and Lee Prize story

Writer and podcast host Brian Hurlburt is a graduate of UNLV.