Austin Community College (ACC) STEM students will present their design for a solar-powered water disinfection system at the National Sustainable Design Expo April 11 in Old Town Alexandria, VA.
“The future depends on sustainable products,” says Ben Jeffries, ACC STEM student. “We applied last year for an EPA grant to help us research and design a product that would help us find ways to reuse greywater. Amazingly, the EPA liked our idea.”
The low-cost, energy-efficient, and nontoxic system uses ultraviolet solar radiation to disinfect household water known as greywater for reuse in irrigation. The science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students spent the past six months designing and building five prototypes.
“We know first-hand how precious our water supply is here in Central Texas,” Kristine Lilly, ACC student and project manager of the ACC S-STEM Scholarship. “We’re still in the midst of a long-sustained drought. Water conservation is a hot topic, and it always will be. We needed to develop a long-term solution.”
“It has the potential to save the U.S. more than 60 billion gallons of water a year.”
The college received an initial $15,000 grant in October from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s P3 program. P3, People, Prosperity, and the Planet, is a national competition among college students to create designs and solutions for a sustainable future. The ACC students are among 43 student groups nationwide who received grants in the first phase of the program.
“It is exciting to watch our students create sustainable solutions for our nation’s everyday needs,” says Trish Phelps, ACC biology professor. “They’re addressing some of the most challenging environmental issues and helping create a vibrant, growing economy.”At the National Sustainable Design Expo the student groups will present their products to a panel of experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The groups who receive the highest scores will receive an additional P3 grant up to $75,000 to further their design, implement it in the field, and move it to the marketplace.
“We know this product can make a difference,” says Lilly. “We’ve proven that water disinfection can be done on a large scale using nothing but the sun’s energy. When you add up the impact, it has the potential to save the U.S. more than 60 billion gallons of water a year.”Back to Top