UML Wins EPA Award

Lowell Sun
06/30/2013


LOWELL -- UMass Lowell was among seven university and college teams nationwide that received an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for innovative solutions to some of today's toughest public health and environmental challenges. 

UML will receive up to $90,000 as a winner of EPA's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award. The money will help students further develop their design and potentially bring it to the marketplace. Previous P3 award winners have started successful businesses and are globally marketing their technologies. 

UMass Lowell won the funding for its project creating nontoxic, biodegradable surfactants from fruit peels and algae, and testing how they are effective. A surfactant is the chemical used in soaps, inks and many other products to reduce the surface tension between the product and a surface, and make it apply more easily. 

"This award helps inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers to create solutions to complex environmental problems," said Curt Spalding, administrator for EPA's New England office. "UMass Lowell students are playing a leadership role, applying their ideas to real-world situations and playing a part in protecting the environment in a more sustainable way." 

"The EPA's support for this research on surfactants will allow UMass Lowell students to continue promising work to convert plant-based material into products that can eventually replace toxic ingredients in cleaning products globally," said Ramaswamy Nagarajan, associate professor of Plastics Engineering at UMass Lowell and the students' adviser.
 
This year's competition featured about 300 student innovators showcasing their sustainable projects designed to protect people's health, the environment, encourage economic growth, and use natural resources more efficiently. A panel of expert judges convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science recommended the winners out of 45 teams following two days of judging. The teams that competed this year proposed potential solutions to worldwide environmental problems including in many developing countries.