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Sustainable Water Access

Addressing a need that affects over 1.8 billion people worldwide, the Sustainable Access to Clean Water Creativity Hub will pursue development of an innovative, affordable membrane-based water purification tool that can safely remove a broad range of water contaminants.

“The Creativity Hubs initiative has allowed us to assemble a unique team of scientists and engineers with the background and expertise to tackle a major global problem” said Theo Dingemans, principal investigator for the sustainable access to water hub. “Our team is excited to advance solutions to these scientific and engineering challenges, and we are especially motivated and inspired to provide practical and affordable solutions that will impact the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.”

The project team is comprised of polymer chemists, computational modelers, and engineers from the College of Arts & Sciences’ Applied Physical Sciences and Mathematics departments and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Building on existing graphene and graphene oxide membrane technologies that have shown promise as water purifiers, the team will seek to develop new filters that make water purification more energy-efficient and to lay a foundation for large-scale, affordable membrane production.

The Creativity Hubs initiative was developed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research to foster fluid, cross-disciplinary research, to establish campus networks that nurture research innovation and risk-taking, and to promote a pervasive culture that drives discovery and curiosity. The inaugural winners of the Creativity Hubs awards were selected from proposals involving 194 UNC researchers from 35 departments in 10 schools and the College of Arts & Sciences. Each team will receive up to $250,000 toward the development of their proposals. Progress will be assessed after one year and the teams could be eligible for up to an additional $250,000 in funding.

The Vice Chancellor for Research is currently exploring opportunities to fund additional hubs in the future. For more information on the UNC Creativity Hubs initiative and the winning teams, please visit: research.unc.edu/creativity-hubs.