EPA Honors High School Sophomore for Soy Innovation

High school sophomore Sohi Sanjay Patel earned a prestigious sustainability award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for her project that proposes developing a flame retardant polyurethane foam made with soy oil and dried soy stems. The foam could be used for housing insulation and as a cushioning material in a wide variety of products.

The EPA presented Patel with the Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award for her work titled, “Scalable and Sustainable Synthesis of a Novel, Biobased Polyurethane Foam System Incorporating Industrial Byproducts and Waste” during the June 2021 virtual Regeneron(R) International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Patel’s work was motivated by the impact of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy in India when over 40 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from a pesticide plant. MIC gas is a raw material used in manufacturing polyurethane foam. Patel focused on replacing MIC with two novel biochemicals, using nontoxic waste products including soy oil and stems, to create a polyurethane foam more sustainably.

The Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award provides funds for the winner to travel to EPA’s National Sustainability Design Expo. The Expo features university and college student teams participating in EPA’s P3 – People, Prosperity and the Planet – Program, which encourages innovative designs applying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics concepts to address environmental challenges.

EPA P3 Student Team Uses Soy Protein to Remove Toxins

A team of students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology received a Phase 1 grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition to develop a filter made with soy protein isolates to combat freshwater harmful algal bloom (FHAB).

The project addresses the problem of adequate access to clean water by developing a portable, low-cost, high-performance biofilter to remove FHAB derived cyanotoxins and heavy metal ions from water. The goal is to deliver clean and safe water by flowing contaminated water through biofilters that remove toxins in a sustainable manner.

EPA’s P3 Program is a competition open to teams of college/university students working to design solutions for a sustainable future. The annual, two-phased research grants program challenges students to research, develop and design innovative projects that address real world challenges involving all areas of environmental protection and public health. Phase I serves as a “proof of concept,” where teams are awarded a one-year grant of up to $25,000 to develop their idea and showcase their research at EPA’s National Student Design Expo. These teams are then eligible to compete for a Phase II grant of up to $100,000 to implement their design in a real-world setting.

To read the project abstract and view the team’s poster, click here: