University teams earn sustainable design prizes

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Six university teams — one of which drove its entry from Washington state on biodiesel fuel made from recovered landfill methane — won top honors at a sustainable design contest hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The "biomethane" car was entered by Western Washington University. Northwestern University students built a solar-powered electricity system that will eventually power an isolated town in Panama. The University of Virginiateam designed and built a floating "learning barge" that cleans up river areas while teaching others about the process.

The EPA said the criteria for its third "People, Prosperity and the Planet" competition was that solutions "must be environmentally friendly, efficiently use natural resources and be economically competitive."

Each winning team award will get funding up to $75,000 to further design and market their technology.

"The Bush Administration believes that American innovation is the key to solving our nation's — and our world's — environmental challenges," EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said in a statement. "Not only are these students unleashing the power of the possible to meet tomorrow's challenges, they are proving that doing what's good for our planet can also be good for the bottom line."

Winners of this year's awards and their projects are:

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., for The Affordable Bioshelters Project: Testing Technologies for Affordable Bioshelters.
  • Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., for Containment of Highly Concentrated Arsenic-laden Spent Regenerant on the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., for Solar Photovoltaic System Design for a Remote Community in Panama.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign, Ill., for An Innovative System for Bioremediation of Agricultural Chemicals for Environmental Sustainability.
  • University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va., for The Learning Barge: Environmental + Cultural Ecologies on the Elizabeth River.
  • Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash., for Bio-Methane for Transportation.

Background on the winners and their projects is online at: