The EPA has announced the winners of its annual P3 award that honors innovative environmental solutions developed by college teams. This year 45 teams were judged by a panel convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science on their idea’s potential to provide “innovative, cutting-edge sustainable solutions to worldwide environmental problems.” Fifteen teams won the award and received $90,000 each to further develop and market their solutions.
Here are the winning teams and their entries:
- Appalachian State University for developing an artificial wetland suitable for recycling of grey water from small businesses for immediate reuse.
- Butte College for developing structural insulated panels for building construction using rice hulls, an abundant agricultural waste, as the primary raw material.
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for designing a foldable solar power water purification system that can fit into a backpack for easy transport for use after a disaster affecting drinking ether supply.
- Gonzaga University for developing a simple ventilation system for kitchens in rural dwellings using electrical power generated from thermoelectric cells driven by waste heat from cooking fires.
- Oregon State University for raising awareness of pollution associated with the production and use of plastic mulch by farmers and testing alternative biodegradable mulch material.
- Princeton University for developing, testing and deploying an electricity generation system that can be transported in a standard shipping container and rapidly set up in rural communities and post disaster areas.
- Santa Clara University for developing a fuel cell capable of continuous sustainable energy supply to meet energy demands in rural communities in developing nations lacking reliable energy grids.
- Southern Illinois University – Carbondale for developing methods to extract (recycle) metals from Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCB) to reduce mining and to produce a concrete with reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
- SUNY College of Environmental Science and Engineering for studying ways to recover struvite, a slow release fertilizer, from digested animal manures and assesses its marketability.
- Texas State University – San Marcos for converting rice husks, a byproducts of agriculture, into a starter material called lignocellulose for producing fabrics, biofuel and silica nanoparticles.
- University of California – Riverside for designing a solar collector to heat ambient air for use in home appliances, such as clothes dryers and space heaters, to reduce home energy consumption.
- University of Cincinnati for developing a pilot scale system to convert trap grease from restaurants, a waste set to landfill, to renewable biodiesel.
- University of Connecticut for investigating ways to use local industrial byproducts such as steal slag and lime kilm dust to control erosion and to stabilize roads in Nicaragua.
- University of Oklahoma – Norman for design, field-test, construct, instrument, analyze and document a habitat for humanity house built of compresses earth blocks (CEB).
- Vanderbilt University for developing a biohyrid solar panel that substitutes a protein from spinach for rare metals (mined) and is capable of producing electricity.
I don’t know about you, but reading that list makes me feel really hopeful about the future knowing that so many college students are thinking up and creating such innovative solutions to environmental problems. You can see a list of Honorable Mentions for this prize that also contains some amazing ideas here.