SAN FRANCISCO -- Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded nearly $30,000 in grants to two student teams at Stanford University and University of California Davis to design a cleaner waterless toilet and cheaper biomethane production. The students are among 42 teams across the country who competed for grants by submitting research proposals to develop sustainable, alternative methods that address environmental challenges as part of EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program.
“These students are coming up with cutting-edge solutions for the most challenging environmental issues facing California, and the world,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Each year, the projects created by student teams surpass our expectations.”
Sustainable Sanitation Solutions - Stanford University ($14,996)
Stanford University students are developing a portable, waterless, household toilet with reusable cartridges for safe removal and recycling of human waste. Based on tests in Haiti, the students found and fixed a critical missing element for “flushing” the dry toilets. The new design adds a standardized dose of dry cover material after each use to more closely mimic the action of a water-flush toilet. Many residents of dense urban communities in developing countries lack access to safe sanitation facilities and must use crowded public toilets, open defecation, or expensive private latrines.
Biorenewable Methane Production - University of California Davis ($14,473)
Methane production from manure can emit less carbon than fossil-fuel-based energy production, but current technology is limited by the available microbial community in anaerobic digesters. UC Davis students are experimenting with enriching and preserving the microbial community in digesters to decrease water usage, installation costs, energy costs, and increase the feasibility for widespread use of the technology. The students aim to simplify and improve the production process of biomethane.
Funding for the P3 projects is divided into two phases. In Phase I, student teams submit a proposal for a project, and if they are selected, they receive $15,000 and compete with other Phase I winners at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. There, teams compete for Phase II funding of up to $75,000. Since 2004, the P3 Program has provided funding to student teams nationwide, committing over $10 million to cutting-edge, sustainable projects designed by university students.
More information on the 2014 P3 Phase I Projects: http://epa.gov/ncer/2014P3grantees
For more information on the P3 Program: www.epa.gov/ncer/p3/