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Cleaner Indoor Air During Wildfires Challenge
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a major pollutant found in smoke from fires, has been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular health effects including ischemic heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular mortality, and exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Current public health advice for protection from smoke exposure during wildfires is to stay indoors, preferably in a “clean room” with filtered air, close windows and doors, and minimize physical exertion. However, current air cleaning technologies for indoor air have multiple limitations that prevent their widespread use and adoption, including the cost of purchase, operation and maintenance as well as dependence on electrical power, which can be disrupted by wildfires or rolling blackouts. In addition, wildfires often occur in the summer and early fall in regions of the United States where many homes do not have air conditioning, so closing windows can lead to very high indoor temperatures.
EPA is partnering with 10 federal, state, tribal and local organizations to stimulate the development of new technologies to clean indoor air. The first step in this effort is the development and launch of a competition called a Challenge, which offers a cash prize for the best technology design for cleaning indoor air during wildfire smoke events and high pollution days.
Through this challenge, EPA and its partners encourage the development of new approaches, technologies, or technology combinations (termed "solutions") for keeping indoor air as clean as possible during periods when outdoor PM2.5 concentrations are elevated.
Deadline: May 17, 2021
The Seeker intends to select up to five finalists to receive awards of up to $10,000 each from a total award pool of $50,000. The Challenge award will be contingent upon results of critical analysis and evaluation by the Seeker. Meeting the technical requirements does not guarantee that the proposed solution will receive an award from the Seeker. Partial cash prizes of less than $10,000 may be considered for solutions that meet some, but not all, of the criteria. The Seeker can also allocate higher individual award amounts, as deemed appropriate.
Winning Solver(s) may be invited to participate in a subsequent competition. Depending on the results of this Challenge and on the availability of funds, the Seeker intends to ask Solvers to submit prototypes for testing.