ACC students receive EPA award for innovative water disinfection project

Student-developed system uses solar power to disinfect household water

A team of 26 Austin Community College (ACC) students was awarded honorable mention for their solar-powered water disinfection system at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Alexandria, Virginia April 11 – 12.

“It’s an incredible honor,” says Kristine Lilly, ACC student and project manager. “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 in residential irrigation use.”

EPA2ACC students presented their low-cost, energy-efficient, and nontoxic system, which uses ultraviolet solar radiation to disinfect household water known as greywater for reuse in irrigation. The student research was a collaboration between teams in the college’s biotechnology, engineering, environmental science, geology, and physics programs. Participating students came mostly from the National Science Foundation-sponsored S-STEM scholarship program. They spent the past nine months designing and building five prototypes. Biotechnology and Environmental Technology faculty served as advisors.

Among the dozens who competed, ACC was the sole community college awarded the EPA’s 2015 People, Prosperity, and the Planet award.  Others receiving honorable mention were Cornell University, Stanford University, and Johns Hopkins University.

Read the full list of 2015 P3 award winners online at

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