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EPA gives $18K to Temple students to address lead contamination in water
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EPA gives $18K to Temple students to address lead contamination in water

The nationwide program will be giving $800,000 to greening and health efforts.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an $18,705 grant to Temple University. The grant is a part of a nationwide initiative to grant $800K to 32 student teams, with a goal to develop projects that address environmental and public health challenges.

Temple’s project will produce a decentralized biochar water filter that reduces lead contamination in Philadelphia household tap water. Even cooler, the biochar will be made from repurposed “waste” materials, like spent coffee grounds, and common water hyacinth.

There’s still one challenge for the project: how to remove lead (Pb) from drinking water that happens after it’s treated, I.e. corroded lead pipes including lead sewer lines or lead solder.

“Removing lead from household tap water is both an engineering research pursuit and a critical social necessity,” said Dr. Erica McKenzie, Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and head of the McKenzie Environmental Research Group at Temple University College of Engineering. “This engineering senior design effort will create a tangible product with the goals of making the world a better, safer, and more sustainable place.”

Other program recipeints are focusing on efforts like reducing microplastics, food waste and removing PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) from water. The next phase of the grant will allow teams to compete for a Phase II grant of up to $100,000 to implement their design in the real-world.

Other Phase I grantees from the EPA Mid-Atlantic Region include student teams from the following universities:

  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.
    • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Sensors for ppb (parts per billion)-Level Detection and Speciation
  • Marshall University, Huntington, W.Va.
    • Nanoclay Reinforced Recycled HDPE (high-density polyethylene) to Replace PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) and PE (Polyethylene) Water Pipe Materials
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, Va.
    • Rare Earth Elements Recovery Using Food Waste

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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