"The world is heading toward a severe water crisis," said James Economy, a professor of materials science and engineering at Illinois and the director of the new center. "There are intelligence reports saying that within a decade or two, water -- not food or fuel -- will be the most serious shortage the world faces."
According to the United Nations, an estimated 1 billion people do not have access to clean, fresh water. Each year, 5 million people die of waterborne illnesses. The world's growing population will exacerbate the problem.
"The goal of the center is to develop revolutionary materials and systems for safely and economically purifying water to counter the impending crisis," Economy said.
"Research will focus on improving disinfection and desalination processes, removing trace contaminants, and eliminating foulants that clog filters and reduce their effectiveness."
Illinois is the lead university for the center. Partner institutions are Clark Atlanta University and Stanford University; affiliated institutions are Ohio State University and the University of California at Berkeley.
At Illinois, scientists and engineers from the departments of chemical engineering; chemistry; civil and environmental engineering; geology; materials science and engineering; and mechanical and industrial engineering will be involved with the center, as well as researchers from the Waste Management and Research Center on campus.
Some of the center's work will build upon carbon-fiber technology developed at
Contact: James E. Kloeppel
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign