BAR HARBOR, Maine — College teams at Dartmouth College, University of Massachusetts-Lowell and the College of the Atlantic were among 45 groups nationwide to win approximately $15,000 each from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Funding was awarded through a student design competition that promotes the design of sustainable technologies to help protect public health and the environment while supporting economic development.
A total of $675,000 was awarded nationwide in EPA’s 2012 “People, Prosperity and the Planet,” or P3, annual student design competition.
Projects receiving funding in New England were:
• A team at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., was awarded the funds for a project designing a small hydropower generation and distribution system that would bring electricity to rural areas of Rwanda while allowing villagers to generate a profit that can be invested back into the system.
• A team at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor designed a process to pretreat food waste for enhanced fermentation to produce liquid fuel and biogas, as well as recover agricultural nutrients currently lost during landfill or incineration.
• A team at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell is designing, synthesizing and characterizing a new class of nontoxic, renewable surfactants that are an environmentally friendly alternative to the nonionic surfactants currently in use. Surfactants, also known as wetting agents, are found in many everyday items, including soap.
The annual P3 competition begins by awarding grants to student teams to develop and design proposed technologies. The proposals highlight the team’s technology and its potential for improving quality of life, promoting economic development and protecting the planet. After eight months of work on their projects, the teams bring their designs to Washington, D.C., to participate in EPA’s National Sustainable Design Expo. During the event, a panel of scientific experts judges the projects. Winners receive a P3 award and recommendation for a second phase grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their designs and prepare them for the marketplace.
The 9th annual National Sustainable Design Expo featuring EPA’s P3 competition is scheduled for April 20-21, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The expo is open to the public and will display the 2012 P3 teams’ designs.