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News Releases from Region 09

EPA Awards nearly $75,000 to UC Riverside Student Team for Sustainable Materials Research

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Alejandro Diaz (

LOS ANGELES – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $594,424 in funding for eight undergraduate and graduate student teams from colleges and universities across the country through EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) grant program. Amongst these, the University of California Riverside is being awarded $74,882 to develop a more sustainable concrete made from hemp pulp.

“I congratulate these students for their innovative ideas to solve some of our biggest environmental challenges,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The student teams in this competition have shown exemplary work and are excellent representatives of the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

“We’re happy to help advance the important work of these UC Riverside students,” said EPA Regional Administrator John Busterud. “This exciting program encourages students to apply their knowledge to create environmental solutions that move us toward a sustainable future.”

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

In Phase II, the winning teams are building upon their successes in Phase I and can receive up to $100,000 to implement their designs in a real world setting. With today’s announcement of Phase II funding, the teams will now further develop their projects and designs to ensure they can be sustainably implemented in the field. Project topics from across the U.S. for this round of funding include determining trace levels of lead in drinking water, controlling harmful algal blooms, and removing Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from wastewater effluent for reuse in agriculture.

UC Riverside will use a new approach to produce high quality, cellulose-rich hemp pulp that improves the strength and insulating properties of so called “hempcrete” building materials. Hempcrete emits zero gaseous emissions and zero toxic waste products. The research team will now look to produce larger hempcrete blocks and perform field trials in partnership with private companies Hempire USA, Match Patch Pro, and The Hurd Co to explore adoption of this approach with respect to commercial products.

"Advancing our CELF pulping technology is an important next step for the environment. This time around, our team will be working closely with InnovaCan, The Hurd Co., and Hempire USA to focus on real world applications,” said UC Riverside Assistant Research Engineer Charles Cai. “We also look forward to working again with the EPA and EPA's Region 9 on this exciting project to develop greener more sustainable products from industrial hemp!"

Since the P3 program’s inception in 2004, EPA has funded student teams to develop sustainable technologies that help solve important environmental and public health challenges. To date, EPA has awarded over 720 P3 projects for a total amount of $16,745,235 involving more than 4,000 students at 234 institutions in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

For more information on the P3 Program, visit:

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