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EPA awards grant to Fort Lewis College team to develop innovative water technology

Students in Durango, Colorado among 18 teams selected nationwide

02/19/2020
Contact Information: 
Richard Mylott (Mylott.Richard@epa.gov)
303-312-6654

DENVER (February 19, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced approximately $447,000 in funding for 18 teams of undergraduate and graduate students across the country through its People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition Program. Each team will receive a Phase I grant of up to $25,000 to develop their sustainable designs that will help solve important environmental and public health challenges.

As part of today’s announcement, a team of students at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., will receive $24,864 to develop a Field-Deployable Droplet Digital PCR System for the Rapid Detection of Waterborne Bacterial Pathogens. This project will create a portable system to provide accurate results on both the concentration and the genotypes of the bacteria population present within water samples. This effort will improve the efficiency and resolution of water quality sampling by producing instantaneous information in the field.

“The innovative ideas that these P3 teams are bringing out of the classroom and into the real world will help solve some of our nation’s most pressing environmental challenges,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “From creating a simple at-home test for consumers to detect lead in tap water to designing a system to remove toxic chemicals from landfill gas, the fresh thinking behind these projects will result in tangible products that will help Americans for generations to come.”

These teams will showcase their projects at EPA’s National Student Design Expo on June 29-30 at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Following the Expo, the P3 teams may compete for Phase II awards of up to $100,000 to further implement their designs.

Grantees include student teams from the following universities:

  • Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, Penn., to create a paper test to detect lead in tap water.
  • Howard University, Washington, D.C., to design and test a pollution control method that will reduce nutrient emissions that cause Cyanobacteria Harmful Algal Blooms.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., to develop a low-cost portable desalination system using wave and solar renewable energy, that can be modified for personal use or the use in small communities.
  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., to use electrical properties of carbon filters to improve the efficient removal of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contaminants from drinking water.
  • The University of Alabama, Huntsville, Al., to develop low-cost adsorbents for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) for safe drinking water in homes/offices.
  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte, N.C., to develop eco-friendly membrane systems for water purification.
  • University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., to design a system for removing toxic chemicals from landfill gas.
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., to develop an environmentally friendly approach to make recyclable paper coatings.
  • University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, to develop a sawdust that can selectively remove Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) from drinking water.
  • St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas, to advance an efficient solar concentrator to produce electricity.
  • Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, to use biochars to remove bacterial toxins in drinking water sources.
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M., to develop approaches for sidewalk construction using recycled materials that use less energy and limit heat storage capacity.
  • University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, to design low-cost air quality sensors and provide them to local communities.
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas, to develop a low-cost filter to be used as an alternative to expensive commercial water filter systems.
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, Mo., to build a portable biofilter that removes freshwater harmful algal bloom toxins and heavy metal ions from water.
  • Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo., to develop a portable system to provide accurate and rapid detection of waterborne bacteria and the genotypes of the bacteria population in water systems.
  • University of California, Berkeley, Calif., to develop a method to remove arsenic from contaminated groundwater to help improve water quality in public water systems in rural California.
  • University of California, Riverside, Calif., to develop construction material out of wheat straw.

To learn more about the 2019 Phase I winners, visit: https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/645/records_per_page/ALL 

For more information on the P3 Program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/P3