Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $14,520 to John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, for a drinking water disinfection project in Guatemala under the People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program. Every year, the P3 program helps student teams pursue projects that deliver sustainable, alternative methods to address environmental challenges.
The project will design a low-cost, low-impact drinking water purification system for a community in Escuintla, Guatemala. Most of the freshwater in the area is not fit for human consumption due to industrial waste, volcanic chemicals, viruses, and bacteria. The prototype will run on solar pv power, purify water with solar ultraviolet radiation, and use digital sensors to automatically collect temperature, pressure, and flow data. To simplify use, the disinfection process will be monitored and operated using an LCD screen control system.
“Each year, the projects and designs created by the P3 teams surpass expectations,” said Lek Kadeli, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These students are creating sustainable solutions for our everyday needs, addressing some of the United States’ most challenging environmental issues and helping create a vibrant, growing economy.”
Past P3 teams have used their winning ideas to form small businesses and non-profit organizations. Environmental Fuel Research, a 2008 P3 winner from Drexel University, incorporated their grease waste-trap biofuel technology into a business enterprise and won a $100,000 EPA Small Business Innovation Research Phase I award this year. This woman-owned startup headquartered in a historically underutilized business zone has the potential to revolutionize domestic biodiesel capacity in the United States.
Since 2004, the P3 Program has provided funding to student teams in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, committing over $10 million to cutting-edge, sustainable projects designed by university students. Projects from this year’s teams include sustainable alternatives to address the reduction of traffic congestion in Cincinnati, Ohio; extending the growing season for farmers by heating greenhouses with biomass; and environmentally friendly flame retardants.
Funding for the P3 projects is divided into two phases. In the first phase, student teams submit a proposal for a project, and if they are selected, they compete with other Phase I winners at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. At the Expo, teams compete for Phase II funding of up to $75,000. This year marks the 11th year for the EPA P3 Program.