Student Teams Tackling Water Issues Using EPA Grant Funding

The 21 teams from around the nation are developing sustainable technologies to solve environmental and public health challenges

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced more than $300,000 in funding for 21 teams of undergraduate and graduate students across the country through its People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grants program.

The teams are receiving funding to develop sustainable technologies to help solve environmental and public health challenges.

“EPA’s P3 grants program supports the next generation of scientists and engineers,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These students are able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-world environmental problems that require innovative solutions.”

The P3 competition challenges students to research, develop and design innovative projects that address a myriad of environmental protection and public health issues. The Phase I teams will receive grants of up to $15,000 each to fund the proof of concept for their projects. This year’s teams are focused on topics like investigating degradation and removal mechanisms for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water treatment, building a model to quantify the extent of untreated raw sewage discharges from homes, and developing a sensor that can determine low levels of lead at terminal plumbing sources such as faucets.

The grantees and their projects include:

Brown University, Providence, Rhode IslandMagnetic Nanocomposites for Water Remediation
Cornell University, Ithaca, New YorkAguaClara's Ram Pump for Zero Electricity Drinking Water Treatment
New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New JerseyDevelopment of Reactive Nanobubble Systems for Efficient and Scalable Harmful Algae and Cyanotoxin Removal; and Reactive Electrochemical Membrane (REM) Filtration for PFOA/PFOS Removal
Drexel University, Philadelphia — Mapping Air Quality with Kite-Based Sensors
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh — Iron-TAML/Peroxide Cyanotoxin Degradation
Widener University, Chester, PennsylvaniaDeveloping Low-Cost Wireless Device for Real Time Monitoring of Lead Levels in Drinking Water
Virginia Wesleyan University, Norfolk, VirginiaVericompost from Phytoremediation of Stormwater
The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AlabamaModeling Straight Pipe Prevalence in Rural Alabama
University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida — A Biopolymer-based Simple Lead Check in Tap Water; and OSMOsis – Driven Reclamation of Water
East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TennesseeMesoporous Adsorbents for Perfluorinated Compounds
Miami University, Oxford, OhioSynthesis and Characterization of Fluorinated Hydrocarbon Anion Exchange Resins for the Extraction of Perfluorinated Chemicals; and UV-LED Photocatalytic Fuel Vapor Emissions Control
University of Saint Thomas, St. Paul, MinnesotaSoil amendments for enhanced phosphorus retention: Implications for green infrastructure design
Illinois State University, Normal, IllinoisRecycled Glass: Cement/Fly Ash Substitute in CLS
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IllinoisPFASs Removal by Photocatalysis for Water Reuse
The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio — Molecular Tools to Predict Cyanobacteria Toxin Production
University of California Riverside, Riverside, CaliforniaMulti-Sensor Fusion for Low-Cost, Automated Woodstoves; and A Green Chemistry Approach to Pulping Hemp as an Industrially Relevant Renewable Fiber for Construction
University of Oregon, Eugene, OregonSanitary Green Space: A Closed-looped sanitation system for growing green communities

The Phase I recipients will attend the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Boston, Massachusetts June 17-18 to showcase their research. They can then apply for a Phase II grant that provides funding up to $100,000 to further the project design.

These students, who represent the future workforce in diverse scientific and engineering fields, are following in the footsteps of other P3 teams. Some of these teams have gone on to start businesses based on ideas and products developed through their P3 project.

In 2018, a previous P3 Phase I awardee from Oklahoma State University (OSU) leveraged P3 funding to initiate their research to develop a cost-effective approach to enhance energy efficiency in wastewater treatment. In furthering their P3 project, OSU transformed the research into a business plan and won the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition with its startup business plan for Contraire — a predictive analysis control system designed to provide near real-time wastewater test measurements.

Amongst 15 other teams, OSU pitched their business plan to a panel of Canadian business leaders and received multiple inquiries from investors.

Click here to learn more about the P3 projects, and click here to learn more about the P3 program.


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