News & Events
Feb. 26, 2017 - KGW-TV featured a story on the Catlin Gabel students who invented JuiceBox, a unique solar-powered device that provides electricity for off-grid, portable pod houses inhabited by previously homeless people. The project, an intersection between environmental and humanitarian work, earned the team a $10,000 prize, which they are re-investing into the project.
For their unique design, and their contributions to the community, the Catlin InvenTeam earned the cash prize and top honors from the national Lexus Eco Challenge.
JuiceBox units are already in use, and benefiting those in need; in the Hazelnut Grove community, four of the units have been installed in pod houses, and 20 more are completed and ready to install. With the $10,000 prize awarded from the Lexus Eco Challenge, the inventors plan to expand the project, and they estimate that the prize money will help them create 30 more JuiceBox units. In keeping with their humanitarian purpose, the students opted to re-invest 100% of their winnings into the project.
JuiceBox units are mounted inside a pod house, and 100W solar panels are installed on the roof or side to deliver power to the unit. The panels charge an 18 AH 12V battery, and this power can then be used for an internal LED light bar, and to power devices that plug into a wall outlet or automotive accessory socket. The inventors are resourcing used batteries for the project. See product details and photos in the JuiceBox Installation and Operation Manual.
To ensure their JuiceBox units reached people most in need, the InvenTeam partnered with three Portland non-profits: The Pods for Peeps project, which builds small, portable, one-room houses to provide homeless people with a safe shelter; the Rebuilding Center, which provides recycled home-building materials; and the Village Coalition, a houseless advocacy group.
The Lexus Eco Challenge engages students to identify and address an environmental issue that affects their community. Student inventors from across the nation compete, and this year the JuiceBox inventors were the only team from the Pacific Northwest recognized with an award. They earned top honors in the Air & Climate category, and the opportunity to compete again in March for a grand prize worth an additional $10,000.