Kansas State University design team awarded EPA grant for innovative technology project
Friday, April 13, 2018
From left, Kansas State University's Donghai Wang, professor of biological and agricultural engineering, with doctoral students Jun Li, Sarocha Pradyawong, Yizhou Chen and Youjie Xu. The students are members of the university's team in the Environmental Protection Agency's People, Prosperity and the Planet Program competition. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — A design team from Kansas State University has returned from the Environmental Protection Agency's People, Prosperity and the Planet, or P3, Program competition as part of the National Sustainable Design Expo at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, April 7-8, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C.
Kansas State University was among 31 schools selected to receive phase I grants from the EPA program — a unique competition open to teams of college and university students working to design solutions for a sustainable future. EPA P3 offers students hands-on experience to bring their classroom learning to life, while also allowing them to create tangible changes in their communities.
The annual, two-phased research grants program challenges students to research, develop and design innovative projects to address real-world challenges involving all areas of environmental protection and public health.
Phase I serves as a proof of concept, where teams apply for and are awarded a $15,000 grant to develop their idea and showcase their research in the spring at EPA's National Sustainable Design Expo. These teams are then eligible to compete for a phase II grant of up to $75,000 to implement their design in a real-world setting.
Members of the Kansas State University team, all doctoral students — Youjie Xu, Sarocha Pradyawong and Jun Li, all in biological and agricultural engineering; and Yizhou Chen, grain science — are now working on the phase II proposal to be submitted by May 31.
Team advisers are Kansas State University's Donghai Wang, professor of biological and agricultural engineering, and Susan Sun, university distinguished professor of grain science.
Under the project titled "Fully utilizing biomass for biofuels and chemicals," the team's research focuses on the end goal of increasing ethanol concentration and ethanol yield, as well as developing bio-based adhesives from plant protein and the biofuel byproduct lignin.
This design will have significant impact on people, prosperity and the planet through development of environmentally friendly biomaterials; and using green energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, carbon dioxide emissions and water use, along with saving energy.
"The expo allowed us to showcase our design to a wide audience of federal agencies, industries, science and engineering advocates, and the general public," Xu said. "It was a great opportunity to practice our public speaking skills and science communication to general audiences and build networking with peers from different universities across the nation."
"We are proud and pleased to be a recipient of the EPA's P3 phase I grant," Wang said. "Our student team worked hard on this challenge and made a strong presentation in Washington, D.C."