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Massachusetts Students Win $10,000 for Solar Project to Help Environment and Economy in Himalayas

Release Date: 10/23/2009
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, (617) 918-1027

(Boston – October 23, 2009) Students at Wellesley College were awarded $10,000 from the EPA to design a solar energy system that can be used for heating and cooking in rural and urban areas of the Himalayas and elsewhere.

The Wellesley solar project was one of two projects in New England and forty-three nationwide to receive grants targeted to teams of college and university students across the country who will design creative technologies to help the developed and developing world. The People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Phase I awards for the 2009-2010 competition challenged students to design and build sustainable technologies that improve quality of life, promote economic development and protect the environment.

Wellesley’s team has worked with villagers in China and India to design the SolSource 3-in-1, a novel device that harnesses solar-thermal energy for cooking, heating, and electricity generation. Several versions of this system have already been tested and this grant will help create a more efficient and portable generation of the device. The success of this system will be evaluated in the Himalayan region, with extreme cold and wind conditions. At the same time, a system will be developed to gather data on how the device affects indoor air quality.

The SolSource 3-in-1, as it is called, can reduce indoor air pollution and reduce the affects of regional climate change in rural areas. It can also reduce energy costs and land-use conflicts. In urban areas, this system could offer families a cheaper supplementary electricity source, a complete camping energy suite or just a clean method of backyard barbequing, according to researchers working on this project.

The grants were given to teams who submitted applications focused on a wide range of categories, including water, energy, agriculture, built environment, materials and chemicals, and information technology. After working on the project for eight months, the teams will bring their designs to the 6th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, DC. There, a select few projects will be awarded P3 Awards and Phase II grants up to $75,000 for students to further their designs, implement them in the field, or move them to the marketplace.

The other grant in New England was given to a team from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island that is working to design a solar/wind system to help food fish production.

More information on EPA’s P3 program:
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/p3/
More information on 2009-2010 Phase I P3 Awards:
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/p3/current

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