Collaborative Research: Industry University Cooperative Research Center: Water and Environmental Technology Center (Phase II)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Collaborative Research: Industry University Cooperative Research Center: Water and Environmental Technology Center (Phase II) Collaborative Research: Industry/University Cooperative Research Center: Water and Environmental Technology Center roject Description: A. Project Summary. (One page) This is a Phase II renewal proposal for the Multi-University I/UCRC the Water and Environmental Technology (WET) Center, which has a focus on water quality and emerging contaminants. The lead of the proposed Center is Temple University, with site locations at University of Arizona and Arizona State University. Any chemical or biological contaminant introduced into pure water results in a lower water quality, which may adversely affect human health and/or the environment. Emerging contaminants (ECs) generally refers to chemicals, biological agents and materials recently detected in the environment, that may pose a potential or real threat to human health or the environment, but which are not generally currently. The challenge of emerging chemical contaminants intersects several industries that manufacture and use emerging contaminants, including: the Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products Industries; the Oil and Natural Gas Industry; the Pesticide and other Chemicals Industry; and producers of nano-sized materials. In addition, ECs are also an issue for entities that treat wastewater and drinking water; and companies that create and service technologies for the removal of contaminants from water. Of particular concern to communities are new emerging pathogens and other biological entities such as prions and endotoxins are also causing concern, since even a one- time exposure can lead to serious illness or even death. The mission of the WET Center is to develop technologies to detect, understand, mitigate and/or control emerging contaminants in the environment as well as other traditional contaminants that can adversely impact water quality. The vision of the WET Center is to minimize any adverse effects of these contaminants on human health and/or the environment. Intellectual merit: Increasingly limited water supplies nationally and internationally have led in many cases to utilization of source waters with unacceptable water quality. The current technical challenge is that certain contaminants (pharmaceuticals, personal care products such as synthetic detergents and fragrances, other chemicals as well as pathogens) are being detected in the source water environment leading to speculation (with some evidence) that harm to human health and/or the environment may occur. Increasing use of nano-sized materials such as silica and titanium dioxide in consumer products is also raising concern. The research challenge in this area includes the need for more scientific information about levels, fate, transport, ecological and health impacts of these ECs in the environment, the need for improved detection and monitoring capabilities, and for new cost-effective treatment technologies and optimization of existing operations at both wastewater and drinking water treatment plants. New and established emerging pathogenic microorganisms are also an issue including: bacteria (E. coli& Legionella); viruses (Adenovirus & Norovirus) and protozoa (Naegleria fowleri). The Center will specifically develop and evaluate new molecular methods of detection as well as real time sensors capable of real-time detection. The technological advancements will also benefit the equipment manufacturing and design firms in providing solutions to water and wastewater treatment plants. Center engineers and environmental scientists utilizing microbial, chemical, hydrologic, and mathematic approaches will work collaboratively to perform this research. Faculty and students will work with industry representatives and build upon their previous/current research dealing with water quality and pollutants. The overriding intellectual merit of this Center will be the impact of the industrial need-focused research program that will enhance scientific understanding and help address a potentially significant health and environmental problem. Broader impacts of the proposed activity: Continuing its success in Phase I, the Center and its research activity will involve faculty researchers, graduate and undergraduate students interacting and working with industry representatives. The Center will encourage collaboration between the three institutions, and between university and industry researchers. The research will expose students and faculty to state of the art research projects of value to both industry and the community. Many member companies have overseas installations, and students will be exposed to regulatory, technological, social and cultural aspects of different countries, enhancing their global experiences. In addition, every effort will be made to engage and involve minority students in research projects. All three institutions will involve students and teachers from local K-12 schools. There are existing programs e.g. TU-STEM whose mission is to improve the infrastructure for K-12 STEM teaching and learning and student performance in the Philadelphia region; and NSF funded Science of Learning Center at Temple with focus on educating 2 children. UA and ASU have similar programs in place. The Center will further enhance the ongoing efforts at the three institutions of integrating research into classroom teaching. The Center is also anticipated to further enhance our laboratory infrastructure and provide a more advanced research and learning environment for students and faculty. Results from the research projects will be presented at Conferences and published in peer review scientific journals. Industry-University-Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) at Arizona State University As water demand and water reuse increases, so does the pressure on the water industry to remove emerging contaminants, including viruses, estrogenic compounds, and NOM that lead to disinfection by-products. Sustainable treatment options must be economically feasible. We propose low-energy titanium dioxide (TiO2) photocatalysis coupled to filtration as a novel drinking water treatment process to reduce contaminants in a sustainable fashion. It is hypothesized that low-energy photocatalysis can partially oxidize organic chemicals to benefit downstream filtration and simultaneously mitigate multiple contaminants that are not adequately addressed in conventional water treatment. The partial oxidation of organic matter provided by TiO2 will leading to extended GAC filter life and reduced membrane fouling, inactivation of UV-resistant viruses, and reduced estrogenicity.
Effective start/end date4/15/143/31/21


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $277,400.00


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