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$3.8M grant to support water technology research

Written by corres2

Wis.’s Marquette University has received a two-year, $3.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense for an interdisciplinary research program, “Novel Technologies to Mitigate Water Contamination for Resilient Infrastructure.”

The program aims to develop novel, sustainable technologies to protect the environment and provide clean drinking water.

The grant aims to expand the water technology development that researchers at Marquette have been doing for decades. It also pairs the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) with faculty from the Opus College of Engineering, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, and Marquette Law School.

“It serves as a reminder that our faculty does significant environmental-related research on a major scale,” said Dr. Jeanne Hossenlopp, vice president for research and innovation. “I hope and expect it will grow into a prosperous long-term partnership between Marquette and ERDC that will have great benefits in defending the water resources we all share.”

Through the program, several funded projects will aim to improve water security and efficiency, reduce operational impacts due to water shortages, and employ innovative water management technologies. Furthermore, the work addresses clean-up related to PFAS — “forever chemicals” — at current and former military installations, including many in Wisconsin.

The program is composed of four projects that target different technologies:

  • Project 1: “Contaminant mitigation in decentralized potable water reuse systems”
    This project will advance the research and development of a mobile wastewater recovery system consisting of solids removal, disinfection with ozone, nutrient recovery, and membrane processes. To return wastewater to drinkable standards, the multidisciplinary team will target advances in the ability of mobile systems to mitigate viruses, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and chemicals.
  • Project 2: “Investigating the effects of disinfection on the persistence of surface-associated pathogens”
    This project will address timely environmental health issues heightened by two coinciding trends: the dramatic and apparently lasting increase in the use of disinfectants in buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rapid rise of illness-causing pathogens that are resistant to antiseptics or antibiotics. In particular, the team will investigate the microbial ecology of biofilms that form on everything water touches in buildings — including pipes, sinks and shower curtains.
  • Project 3: “Electroremediation of PFAS”
    PFAS chemicals are toxic and accumulating in the environment, with inadequate remediation strategies available to address the threat they pose to human health. This project will advance research and development of an innovative two-step system involving electrochemical removal of PFAS and subsequent bioelectrochemical degradation and destruction.
  • Project 4: “Water data fusion and analytics for resilient infrastructure to mitigate soil and water contamination”
    This project will look at several external factors by developing a data- and policy-driven approach to mitigate water quality degradation, as well as data-driven optimization of green stormwater infrastructure performance. They will also identify policy roadblocks by evaluating and comparing legal, policy, and governance strategies that impact pollutant transport.

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