BioFlare Wins The 2024 Min Family Challenge


For about one-third of the world’s population, cooking can literally be a health hazard. Lacking access to gas-lines, they must rely on expensive and environmentally damaging firewood, charcoal or propane tanks to cook their meals, exposing them to harmful indoor pollutants.

BioFlare, a startup founded by four USC students, including one from the Viterbi School, believes there is a better way. Members of the burgeoning company are developing a kitchen device that would transform most organic food waste into gas for cooking. Consumers would toss fruits, vegetables and other food scraps into a rectangular-shaped unit, add a proprietary bio-mix, and wait for the waste to transform into biogas. BioFlare’s system would then filter the gas for purification, while a gas hook-up would transport the sustainable cooking fuel to a stove or burner.

That vision landed BioFlare the $50,000 grand prize at the 2024 Min Family Challenge, an engineering startup competition that encourages would-be social entrepreneurs to build companies to benefit the underprivileged locally, nationally, and even worldwide with sustainable solutions. Educational sessions, workshops, and meetings were held virtually throughout the academic year with the finals held on Wednesday, April 17.

“Winning The Min Family Challenge marks a pivotal milestone for our team,” said Jacqueline Franco, a master’s student in integrated design, business, and technology at the Iovine and Young Academy. “These funds will breathe life into our vision, enabling us to finalize our prototype and manufacture a model that we can deploy and test with users.”

Added BioFlare’s Nam Nguyen, a senior majoring in political science and minoring in computer programming and management consulting: “Winning really furthers my motivations for just social impact and creating a more equitable world.”

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