STORRS — A student team from Connecticut is among five teams in New England chosen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to receive up to $15,000 to pursue projects that deliver sustainable, alternative methods of addressing environmental challenges.
The University of Connecticut/Storrs won the funding for a project that will develop a cost effective and environmentally friendly flame retardant.
The “Environmentally Friendly Flame Retardants Based on Inorganic Nanosheets” project will make a flame retardant that will have similar or higher flame retardancy performance; minimum release of toxic gases during combustion; no leak of toxic chemicals during production, transportation, and usage; and, similar or lower cost when compared to conventional flame retardants.
“Projects and designs created by student teams each year surpass our expectations,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “It’s exciting and hopeful that students are coming up with sustainable ways to address our country’s challenging environmental issues, while also helping to create a vibrant, growing economy.”
Also from New England, college teams at Bridgewater State University, University of Massachusetts/Lowell and Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute as well as Norwich College in Vermont were among 42 college teams nationwide selected for EPA’s annual Prosperity and the Planet (P3) student design competition.
Past P3 teams have used their winning ideas to form small businesses and non-profit organizations. An intercollegiate team made up of students from Harvard, MIT and two Chinese universities launched the nonprofit organization One Earth Design, based on their winning project: a solar-powered device that cooks, provides heat and generates electricity.
Since 2004, the P3 Program has provided funding to student teams in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, committing over $10 million to cutting-edge, sustainable projects designed by university students. Projects from this year’s teams include sustainable alternatives to address the reduction of traffic congestion in Cincinnati, extending the growing season for farmers by heating greenhouses with biomass and environmentally friendly flame retardants.
Funding for the P3 projects is divided into two phases. In the first phase, student teams submit a proposal for a project, and if they are selected, they compete with other Phase I winners at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. At the Expo, teams compete for Phase II funding of up to $75,000. This year marks the 11th year for the EPA P3 Program.