Civil and Environmental Engineering

School of Engineering

Environmental Engineering Students Win Prestigous Award From the Environmental Protection Agency

A team of students led by Dr. Gadhamshetty and Dr. Kilduff from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has received a prestigious P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) Award from the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) for 2012-2013. Several universities throughout the United States compete for this EPA-P3 award every year. The selection criteria of this award includes: novelty and innovation, connection to sustainability, and integration of competition as an educational tool.

The goal of the proposal submitted by Environmental Engineering team at RPI was to use microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as a new means to obtain potable water. The MFC-based drinking water technology uses tiny microbes to harness electrons (direct current) from organic matter that subsequently destroys organic and inorganic contaminants in water. The review panel noted that the merit of the proposal was in developing a new, modular MFC assembly for producing potable water and electric current. This is an environmentally friendly alternative to the classical drinking water treatment technologies.

In spring 2013, the RPI team will take their innovative design to the National mall, Washington, D.C and compete for second phase of P3 award and a grant of $90,000 to turn their idea into a business, or implement it in the community.