EPA P3 competition held over Earth Day Weekend in Washington DC

By Erin Voegele | April 23, 2012

The U.S. EPA co-sponsored the 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., over Earth Day weekend. The event, which took place April 21-23, featured more than 30 exhibitors from nonprofits and government agencies that showcased innovative environmental solutions. The event also featured 45 university and college teams that are competing for Phase II funding under the EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) student-design competition.

Several of the projects competing for P3 funding are focused on biofuel and algae production. Those projects include:

-“From Manure to Diesel in 2 Weeks”—Students from Arizona State University are investigating how nutrient waste from wastewater treatment plants can be used in algae culture media for biofuel production.

-“The Greening of Cell Wall Breakdown”—Students at Clark Atlanta University in Georgia are designing genes for bacterial that will produce lignin-degrading enzymes in plant cell walls for celluslosic ethanol production.

-“One way Fungi can make the world a better place”—Students at Blackburn College in Illinois are isolating fungi strains to test whether they can convert cellulose to lignin waste from paper into biofuels in a composting facility.

-“Burning Algae under the Sun”—Students at New Mexico State University are developing a solar reactor that can convert solid wastes from algae biofuel into liquid and gas fuels that can be used to increase fuel production.

-“Garbage Juice 4 Engine Use”—Students at Clarkson University in New York are studying the feasibility of using waste heat and leachate from solid waste facilities to produce algae biodiesel, which would then power the waste facility.

-“Making Sewer Clogging Grease into Biodiesel”—Students at the University of Cincinnati are developing a system to convert trap grease into biodiesel.

-“Smells like Sustain-algae-lity”—Students at Drexel University in Pennsylvania are designing a pilot-scale reactor for a local landfill that uses algae to produce biofuels from leachate and landfill gas.

-“Squeeze grapes for your wine, heat your home with the residue”—Students at Gannon University in Pennsylvania are developing a process to produce biofuel from grape pomace.

-“Powering Life from Rice”—Students at Texas State University-San Marcos are converting rice husks into lignocellulose for producing fabrics, biofuel and silica nanoparticles.

The event was open to the public. Judging took place April 21 and 22. Additional event co-sponsors included the American Society of Civil Engineers, Engineers without Borders, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and Engineering for Change.

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