UCR Student Team Receives Grant from EPA

A team of students from the University of California, Riverside (UCR), have been awarded a People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their Small-Scale Solar Desalination for Drinking Water project.

“We want to congratulate the UCR team for its exemplary work on an innovative solution to a pressing water quality challenge,” said acting EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Deborah Jordan. “EPA is proud to support the next generation of scientists and engineers – including these bright students right here in California – in creating solutions that move us toward a sustainable future.”

As a Phase I P3 winner, the UCR team will receive $24,995 to develop and demonstrate its Small-Scale Solar Desalination for Drinking Water unit, which combines solar energy with flash distillation and latent heat to remove salt from water. This system can convert brackish groundwater, seawater or used water into potable water for indoor use in single family homes.

“Clean water for all communities continues to be a hurdle in our modern society and we’re grateful the EPA is helping support these important efforts,” said Sundararajan Venkatadriagaram, Associate Professor of Teaching and faculty lead for the student project. “With the help of this grant, our engineering students can change lives – and might be inspired to build a life-long career that gives back.”

The EPA’s P3 – People, Prosperity and the Planet – Program is a unique competition that is open to teams of college/university students working to design solutions for a sustainable future. This annual, two-phased research grants program challenges students to research, develop, and design innovative projects that address real world challenges involving all areas of environmental protection and public health.

Phase I serves as a “proof of concept,” where teams are awarded a one-year grant of up to $25,000 to develop their idea and showcase their research in the spring at EPA’s National Student Design Expo (NSDE). These teams are then eligible to compete for a Phase II grant of up to $100,000 to implement their design in a real world setting.

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