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U.S. Environmental Agency Rewards Young Innovators
April 27, 2012

By Mark Trainer
IIP Staff Writer
April 26, 2012

A group of students with a tabletop display
A team from the University of Toledo presented a process to convert animal wastes into a manure-based biosolids fuel.

What if instead of using rare metals to make energy-producing solar panels, you used protein derived from spinach? Or how about using industrial byproducts such as steel slag and lime kiln dust to control erosion and stabilize roads in Nicaragua?

These are some of the innovative ideas that were on display at the eighth annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award competition at the expo featured more than 300 college innovators showcasing projects designed to protect the environment, encourage economic growth and use natural resources more efficiently.

 EPA awarded more than $1 million in grants to 15 teams from across the country.This year’s winners were selected from 45 competing teams after two days of judging by a panel of national experts convened to provide recommendations to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. EPA selected the award-winning projects, basing its decisions on the potential to provide cutting-edge solutions to worldwide environmental problems.

“The competition and expo are … about supporting the next generation of this country’s innovators and entrepreneurs who are entering the environmental and public health field with passion to make a difference and many brilliant ideas,” said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The P3 program gives these students the opportunity to bring those ideas to realization, and many have the potential to make significant impacts on our nation’s sustainable future and development of environmental technologies.”

Each P3 award-winning team will receive a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop its design, apply it to real-world applications or move it to the marketplace. Previous P3 award winners have started successful businesses and are marketing their technologies in the U.S. and around the world.