Forty-three college and university teams from the US have won grants to develop a variety of sustainable technologies, including hurricane-proof homes made from shipping containers, school buildings inspired by Native American design and affordable, family-scale biogas generators.
The $10,000 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants represent the first phase of the agency’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) awards, which go to students who develop creative technologies that can solve sustainability challenges in both the developed and developing world.
After eight months of project development, the student teams will then bring their designs to the 6th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, DC. At the Expo, the projects will be judged by a panel of experts and a select few will be awarded P3 Awards and Phase II grants of up to $75,000 for students to further their designs, implement them in the field or move them to the marketplace.
Among the first-phase grant winners are:
- A Clemson University project to design a prototype housing unit made out of retired shipping containers that can withstand hurricanes;
- A Florida Gulf Coast University effort to develop an outdoor classroom model that integrates Seminole Tribe “chickee” building design with innovative renewable technologies that decrease life cycle costs;
- A Pierce College programme that’s developing a scalable digester system that is capable of generating enough biogas to cook a meal per day for a family of six;
- A University of Delaware project to develop new, low-cost hydrogen storage substrates from chicken feathers that could potentially compete with carbon nanotubes and metal hydrides at a tiny fraction of the cost; and
- A Wellesley College effort undertaken with Harvard, MIT and Qinghai Normal University to create a three-in-one solar cooker, heater and electricity generator to help bring clean energy to the rural Himalayas.