Air pollution, including smoke from wildfires, contributes to substantial adverse clinical, public health and economic impacts worldwide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is partnering with federal, state, local, and tribal agencies to encourage the development of new, low-cost approaches to clean fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) from indoor air. In addition to affordability and particulate matter removal, solutions that offer added benefits (e.g., cooling, operable during a power outage) will be considered favorably.
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5), a major pollutant found in wildfire smoke, can cause respiratory and cardiovascular health effects, especially for those with pre-existing conditions, including asthma or cardiovascular 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. Owning and maintaining air purifiers currently on the market is unaffordable for many people who are at risk of health effects from exposure to wildfire smoke. 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 the following organizations to stimulate the development of new technologies to clean indoor air:
- U.S. Department of State;
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health;
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health;
- National Institute of Standards and Technology;
- Hoopa Valley Tribe;
- California Air Resources Board;
- Oregon Health Authority;
- Missoula City-County Health Department;
- Puget Sound Clean Air Agency; and
- Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.
Beyond the core indoor air cleaning capability, additional desirable features include a cooling function and an alternate power source. An innovative, low-cost solution would have enormous public health impact by reducing air pollution exposures for people across the United States and throughout the world.
Federal grantees may not use Federal funds from a grant award to develop their Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of their Challenge submissions.
Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop their submissions or to fund efforts in support of their submission.
Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment should consult their ethics official before participating in the Challenge.
Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker to be eligible to receive an award.
- The Seeker intends to select up to five finalists to receive awards of $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.
- This is a Theoretical Challenge requiring submission of a written solution. Depending on the results of this Challenge and on the availability of funds, the Seeker may invite winning Solver(s) to participate in a follow-on competition, in which the Solver will be asked to develop and submit a prototype solution for testing. In submitting to this Theoretical Challenge, Solvers should make it clear if they have the interest and ability to participate in a subsequent competition, and whether they would be willing to consider future collaborations or development activities with support of government staff and facilities.