MAY 30, 2014 12:00 AM PDT

Ben Gurion UniverSity and University of Chicago Expand Collaboration on Water Initiatives

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Caption: Left to right: BGU's Frankel Professor of Chemical Engineering Prof. Moshe Gottlieb, BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, UC President Prof. Robert Zimmer and Prof. Dan Blumberg, BGU's VP and Dean of R&D.

Ben-Gurion University President Prof. Rivka Carmi and University of Chicago President Prof. Robert Zimmer decided on Thursday to take the research agreement between the two universities to the next level and expand cooperation.

Zimmer was visiting Beer-Sheva to mark and review the first year of the collaboration, which was inaugurated in the presence of President of Israel Shimon Peres and Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel last June. The two universities began funding a series of ambitious research collaborations that apply the latest discoveries in nanotechnology to create new materials and processes for making clean, fresh drinking water more plentiful and less expensive by 2020. The joint projects explore innovative solutions at the water-energy nexus, developing more efficient ways of using water to produce energy and using energy to treat and deliver clean water.

Leading the efforts are Moshe Gottlieb, BGU's Frankel Professor of Chemical Engineering and Matthew Tirrell, the Pritzker Director of the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering. Researchers from BGU's Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research have joined researchers from the Institute for Molecular Engineering. University of Chicago also brings to the effort two powerful research partners already committed to clean-water research, the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

The Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology established Israel's first and only atom chip lab, and its first and only nanofabrication facility dedicated to the emerging field of quantum technology. Many of BGU's nanotechnology projects have resulted in patents in water desalination, new materials, health remedies, and homeland security. Now the Institute is surging forward with a cadre of handpicked researchers in a new cutting-edge facility that took years to plan and build, and is positioned to take a leading role in research identified as high priority by Israel and the United States.

The Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) was founded in January 2002 within the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, atthe Sede Boqer Campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The ZIWR, now in its advanced stages of establishment, unites under one roof all aspects of water resources research, including extensive research activities in diverse water sciences ranging from groundwater production and desalination technologies to treatments for marginal water sources. Particular emphasis is placed on research and development of water resources in drylands. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has taken upon itself the challenge of establishing this water institute, recognizing the importance of such an initiative, both now and for the future of the entire region.

The first wave of research proposals includes fabricating new materials tailored to remove contaminants, bacteria, viruses and salt from drinking water at a fraction of the cost of current technologies; biological engineering that will help plants maximize their own drought-resistance mechanisms; and polymers that can change the water retention properties of soil in agriculture.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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