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News Releases from Region 04

EPA Awards $75,000 Grant to University of Central Florida to Solve Environmental and Public Health Challenges

Contact Information: 
Dawn Harris-Young (
(404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

ORLANDO (May 30, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida with a $75,000 Phase II People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant. The grant will be used to develop a 2- dimensional (2D) molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) sponge oil-water separator (MDSOS) - a novel superhydrophobic and superoleophilic sponge technology for highly efficient oil-water separation.

“These Phase II recipients have demonstrated that the technologies they developed are viable solutions to real-world environmental issues,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Through the P3 program, EPA is supporting the next generation of scientists and engineers while encouraging innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges.”

“This grant will allow the University of Central Florida students to apply their classroom experiences with real world complex environmental issues,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker.

Nationally, EPA awarded more than $450,000 in funding for six Phase II student teams as part of the People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant program. These teams, made up of undergraduate and graduate students from across the country, are building upon their successes in Phase I of the P3 grant competition where they designed innovate solutions to real-world environmental and public health challenges. With Phase II funding, the teams will now further develop those projects and designs to ensure they can be sustainably implemented in the field.

The P3 program is a two-phase research grants program that challenges students to research, develop and design innovative projects addressing environmental and public health challenges. Phase I serves as a “proof of concept,” where teams are awarded a $15,000 grant to develop their idea and showcase their research in the spring at EPA's National Student Design Expo. These teams are then eligible to compete for a Phase II grant of up to $75,000 to implement their design in a real-world setting.

The recipients include:

  • Cornell University – Ithaca, New York
    Environment and Community-Friendly Wastewater Treatment
  • Case Western University – Cleveland, Ohio
    Ultra-Low-Cost Reusable Solar Disinfection Sensor
  • Michigan Technological University – Houghton, Michigan
    Separation and Recovery of Individual Components from the End-of-Life Lithium-Ion Batteries
  • Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, Oklahoma
    Decreasing the Energy Use in Wastewater Treatment
  • University of California Riverside – Riverside, California
    PanCeria: Catalytic NO and CO Emission Control Unit for Small Off-Road Engines

Some of the P3 Phase II grantees will be attending the annual P3 National Student Design Expo (NSDE). At the expo, the students showcase advancements made from follow-on support, share how they’ve leveraged their ideas with P3 funding, and gain the opportunity to network with other grantees and businesses. This year’s expo is at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 17 – 18, 2019.

Previous P3 winners have also gone on to start businesses based on ideas and products developed through their P3 project. For example, a 2007 P3 winning team from the University of California Berkeley went on to create SimpleWater, a water treatment company that specializes in household water treatment systems. Another successful 2007 P3 team from the University of Virginia created the Learning Barge, as a part of the Elizabeth River Project. The Learning Barge is the world’s first floating wetland classroom and America’s Greenest Vessel. It's a "steward ship," teaching children that live nearby about environmental stewardship and how to make the river swimmable and fishable by 2020.

To learn more about the projects of the 2019 P3 Phase II winners.

For more information on the P3 Program, visit: