Finalists were just announced for the California Cleantech Open, an influential national contest to pair emerging projects in need of financing with those valuable dollars. And the ideas to come out of it are, as always, intriguing.

Treehugger.com has the complete rundown, worth perusing for the scope of fascinating ideas. One worth pausing to think about is Micromidas, a Californian startup that aims to convert the carbon in organic wastewater into bio-plastics that can be used just like conventional plastics.

The company claims that "by applying a naturally occuring microbial phenomena, we convert the carbon in organic wastewater into polyhydroxylalkanoate (PHA), a family of high-performance, highly marketable biodegradable plastics. Our process consumes carbon and other nutrients from the waste stream that would have to undergo costly processes such as incineration or chemical treatment."

The winner of the contest will be announced on November 17th, but each of the six finalists has already won a prize worth $100,000.

Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.