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News Releases from Region 04

EPA Awards Grants to Student Teams in Florida for Innovative Technology Projects

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(404) 562-8400

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 16, 2020) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $25,000 to both the University of Central Florida in Orlando and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton as part of a total of $792,036 in funding for 32 student teams through its People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant program. Each team will receive funding to develop and demonstrate projects that help address environmental and public health challenges.

“As EPA celebrates its 50th anniversary, this month, we are highlighting ways the agency supports the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, EPA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science and EPA Science Advisor. “The P3 program helps foster environmental education among students to support the next generation of scientists and engineers working to tackle some of today’s most pressing environmental issues.

"The P3 program supports students as they apply their classroom experiences to tackle pressing and complex environmental issues,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. "EPA is proud to support the research being advanced by these student teams as they find innovative, sustainable solutions to protect our environment and our natural resources.”

“FAU is excited to upgrade biogas to Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) via concurrent removal of all ubiquitous impurities. The produced RNG can be injected into natural gas grid or used as a carbon-neutral fuel,” said Masoud Jahandar Lashaki, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering at Florida Atlantic University. “This research is of strategic importance to the U.S. energy security and well-being and prosperity of our farming communities.”

“The project seeks to develop and apply two-dimensional nanomaterial layers-integrated hygroscopic nanofilms for smart desalination and irrigation towards small communities that are not based on reverse osmosis,” said Dr. Woo Hyoung Lee, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at University of Central Florida. “We expect to improve the efficiency of solar light thermal evaporation and desalination through a biomimicry application of the new photothermal nanomaterial.”

The Phase I teams will receive grants of up to $25,000 each which serve as their proof of concept. This year’s winners are addressing a variety of research topics including efforts to reduce microplastics waste and food waste, creating innovative and solar-driven nanomaterials, building a stand-alone water treatment system that can provide potable water for indoor use in single family homes, and removing PFAS from water using liquid extractions. These teams are also eligible to compete for a Phase II grant of up to $100,000 to further implement their design in a real-world setting.

Phase I grantees include student teams from the following Florida universities:

  • Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton
    • Single-Stage Process for Biogas Purification
  • University of Central Florida, Orlando
    • Desalination using 2D MoS2 Nano-solar Evaporator

To learn more about the P3 Phase I winners, visit:


The P3 program is a two-phase research grants program that challenges students to research, develop and design innovative projects addressing environmental and public health challenges. Phase I serves as a “proof of concept,” where teams are awarded a $25,000 grant to develop their idea and showcase their research in the spring at EPA's National Student Design Expo. 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.

For more information on the P3 Program, visit:

To learn more about EPA’s 50th anniversary, visit: