Revolutionary USF Technology Wins Prestigious Cade Prize

The USF team led by Associate Professor Daniel Yeh was selected from 85 which entered the competition. Photo | College of Engineering.

NEWgenerator biotech machine took top honors at annual competition

Special to USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (May 9, 2014) – A University of South Florida invention that turns waste product into fertilizer, renewable energy and clean water won the $50,000 Cade Museum Prize last night in Gainesville. The NEWgenerator machine was developed by Daniel Yeh, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his team of graduate students at USF in Tampa.

“We are so honored to have won the Cade Museum prize against the other inventive finalists,” said Yeh. “Our compact sanitation and resource recovery technology is in a niche where there is a dire need, and we are trying to do what many feel is an impossible task, that is to bring high technology to impoverished communities.”

Yeh was selected from among the 85 teams that entered this year’s competition. His invention was one of the “Final Four” that pitched their technologies to a panel of three national judges last night at a gala event presented by RTI Surgical.

The NEWgenerator technology uses microbes to break down waste and is different than typical wastewater treatments because it recoups what other methods cast off. Byproducts such as nitrogen and phosphorous can be harvested as fertilizers, and the clean water can be used for irrigation or other applications. Also, Yeh's invention requires little energy to use, and it actually creates energy as methane gas. The entire process is net energy positive, which means it generates more energy than it consumes.

Yeh expects that his NEWgenerator membrane biotechnology can contribute to solving a global challenge in sanitation that impacts close to 2.6 billion people. NEWgenerator recently teamed up with Indian company Eram Scientific to become one of the winning teams of the Reinvent The Toilet—India Challenge. Yeh also recently participated in a press conference with Eram Scientific and Doulaye Kone of the Gates Foundation, speaking on plans for sanitation revolution in India. More information about this technology can be found at

Yeh started working on the technology as a post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University in 2002. The project began drawing international attention in 2011 when the Gates Foundation awarded the invention one of the its Grand Challenges Explorations grants. Since then, the machine has been patented and new patents are pending as the technology continues to be refined.

The Cade Museum Prize competition rewards innovation and invention from entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors in the State of Florida. As winners, Yeh and his team will receive $50,000 from the Community Foundation of North Central Florida and $10,000 in free legal services from Edwards Wildman.