The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded seven universities in the southeast — one of which is Daytona’s Embry-Riddle — People, Prosperity and the Planet Phase I grants for the 2011-2012 school year.

According to a press release, the grants will go toward designing “creative solutions to sustainability challenges in the developed and developing world” and will challenge students “to design and build sustainable technologies that improve quality of life, promote economic development and protect the environment.”

Daytona Beach’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was awarded a $12,845 grant to help design a portable solar water purification system for public use during disaster recovery. According to the EPA website, the Embry-Riddle team plans to design a solar-powered water purification system that can be folded into a backpack for easy use. The team projects that the unit will run directly from sunlight or, if deep cycle batteries are locally available, for 72 hours continuously without sunlight.

Nationally, P3 grants were awarded to 45 teams of college and university students across the country. Each team has eight months to work on its project before bringing their designs to the 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where they will be judged by a panel of experts. A few teams will then be selected for Phase II grants of up to $90,000 for students to improve their designs, implement them in the field, or move them to the marketplace.

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