BGU and UChicago Continue Making Strides
October 19, 2015
University of Chicago Magazine — The Water Research Initiative, a joint project of Ben-Gurion University and the University of Chicago, is continuing its commitment to tackling the challenging questions surrounding water sustainability.
“We didn’t want to do something that people already do and were far in advance,” says Prof. Moshe Gottlieb of BGU’s Department of Chemical Engineering, who helped spearhead the Initiative.
The BGU-UC team recognized early on that the emerging crisis in the supply of fresh water, from California to South Asia to sub-Saharan Africa, was ideally suited to the institutions’ strengths, and in need of new ideas and approaches.
The goal of the Water Research Initiative is not merely to create materials and processes that work in the lab, but to develop them for commercial use.
This includes finding simpler and more efficient ways of making the special polymers that make desalination possible.
Israel has proven the effectiveness of desalination plants in creating fresh water, but the membranes used in the process are expensive and prone to fouling.
As part of the Initiative, BGU Profs. Miron Landau and Moti Herskowitz, both of the Department of Chemical Engineering, are using molecular engineering techniques to design and build catalysts that can work in water. These catalysts will be incorporated into membranes. As water flows through, the harmful chemicals will be destroyed.
“It’s a fairly big breakthrough,” says Prof. Gottlieb.