By Greg Ross

UChicago researchers have joined a consortium of regional research institutions, private enterprise, and government organizations to play a prominent role in Current, a new Chicago-based public-private initiative that aims to take on today’s most pressing water challenges.

Current hopes to “advance the efficiency and resiliency of water systems, develop and deploy innovative water technology solutions to safeguard clean water and improve wastewater treatment, and drive increased investment and employment in the water industry,” according to a press release.

The Institute of Molecular Engineering (IME)’s Water Research Initiative is pursuing several projects that focus on improving the functionality of water systems. A few of the initiative’s projects include chemical techniques to remove water contaminants, advanced filtration technologies, and research on underground water aquifers. Steven J. Sibener, Carl William Eisendrath Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry, heads the initiative. “This is a very exciting time for the Water Research Initiative as we evolve from its launch phase to ongoing, larger-scale research horizons,” he said…

…Matthew Tirrell, director of the IME, said in a written statement, “Current will shine a bigger spotlight on a wide and growing range of Chicago-based innovations in water-related technologies. The University of Chicago is playing an integral role in the efforts of Current to bring together universities, national laboratories, industry and new ventures to tackle this important societal issue.”

The University’s foray into aqueous research comes at a time at which clean water is increasingly scarce and valuable. Drought has devastated California and contaminated water has plagued Flint, MI. On March 22, the first-ever White House Water Summit highlighted the Obama administration’s efforts to increase drought relief plans, support water research, and finance innovative water initiatives. The summit featured Current as one of the many promising water initiatives taking place nationwide.

Sibener remarked in a phone interview that while the University has “always had the capability to pursue water research,” its recent focus on water research “arrived on the scene at a very useful time to have real-world impact.”

Areas of Focus: Environment
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