Tuesday, April 15, 2014

U of A Researchers Partner with NSF, Garver, and others to Join the National Center to Advance Development of Membranes for Water Treatment



Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas will join the National Science Foundation’s Membrane, Science, Engineering and Technology Center, which focuses on developing materials for energy production, water treatment, pharmaceutical purification and chemical processing. The center, known as MAST, is a multi-campus collaboration that includes such institutions as the University of Colorado and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Garver has long supported the UA College of Engineering, and now the company will be one of four industry partners who will provide the program with a total of $600,000 over three years. The NSF will commit $300,000 over five years as part of its nationwide Industry and University Cooperative Research Program.

“Garver is making an investment in research and development and our commitment to this MAST Center is a major step in that strategic direction,” said Garver Director of Water Services Steve Jones.

Dr. Ranil Wickramasinghe, a UA professor of chemical engineering, will take the opportunity to focus on membrane separations, which includes water treatment, wastewater recovery and reuse, and bioseparations for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals. The center’s expertise in membrane separations will enhance its research mission and emphasis on industry participation.

“We are excited and proud to be an active research partner in the Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology Center,” Wickramasinghe said. “Our research focus is imperative, not only to the goals of the center, but to a broader community, especially as water becomes a more precious resource.”

Garver’s Water Design Center works with Wickramasinghe to improve already-cutting-edge membrane technology. Such technology recently won Garver a Grand Conceptor award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Alabama for design of the Tuscumbia Water Treatment Plant, the first dual-series membrane plant in the state of Alabama.

“Garver engineers are directly involved in research projects at the University of Arkansas, and are translating their research into improved treatment plant design for water reclamation,” said Dr. Michael Watts, senior process engineer in the Water Design Center. “This means our clients will have access to the state-of-the-art, and beyond, in membrane filtration and will see direct benefits to the quality of water in their communities.”

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