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EPA Awards $15,000 to UMBC to Recover Nutrients from Urine

Contact Information: 
David Sternberg (

PHILADELPHIA (March 22, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is providing a $15,000 grant to the University of Maryland Baltimore County to investigate a new technology to sustainably remove nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium pollution from urine. 

The grant was part of more than $463,000 in funding nationally for 31 Phase I university student teams through the People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) grants program. These teams, made up of college students from across the country, are developing sustainable technologies to solve current environmental and public health challenges.

“This year’s P3 teams are applying their classroom learning to create valuable, cutting-edge technologies,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This next generation of scientists is designing sustainable solutions that will help protect public health and the environment and ensure America continues to lead the world in innovation and science for decades to come.”

Funding for the P3 competition is divided into two phases. Teams selected for Phase I awards receive grants of up to $15,000 to fund the demonstration of their projects, which will then be showcased at the National Sustainable Design Expo. The 2018 Expo is scheduled to be held at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, April 7-8. Phase I teams are eligible to compete for Phase II awards of up to $75,000 to further develop and implement their designs. 

The UMBC team will investigate an innovative technology, Nutrient Extraction and Recovery Devices or NERDs, for recovery of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium from source-separated urine. 

Nutrient pollution impairs water and environmental quality.  The team expects to recover 90 percent of these nutrients with minimal energy or chemicals. 

The team will conduct NERD optimization studies using lab-scale reactors to maximize the rate and magnitude of nutrient recovery from synthetic and real urine; modify a port-o-potty to include NERD technology; and demonstrate the ability of this unit to recover nutrients from real urine collected on the UMBC campus.

To learn more about the projects of the 2017 Phase I winners, visit:

For more information on the P3 Program, visit: