The global water industry is estimated at a whopping $350 billion, and while Philadelphia might be an unexpected leader in this burgeoning field, The Water and Environmental Technology Center headquartered at Temple University, is quickly becoming recognized as a global technology hub.
In partnership with the University of Arizona and funded in part by illustrious grants from the National Science Foundation as well as investments from the private sector, Dr. Rominder Suri wants to change how the world sees, and values, Earth’s most precious resource: Water.
While this innovation is local, the implications are global, as covered in Flying Kite’s article on the subject, Philly’s water world attracting investment, innovation:
Think about [water] treatment plants, with infrastructure built many years ago, and ill equipped to handle some of the chemicals that now show up in every stream. Dr. Rominder Suri, Director of the Water and Environmental Technology Center, studies emerging contaminants and develops technologies to identify and treat a wide range of chemicals in water. Caffeine, for example, is everywhere. In every stream, you will find traces of the stimulant. A far greater regional threat is runoff from coal mining and natural gas drilling operations. Concerns about fracking are on the rise, and a big reason is the effect on water quality.
“There is not only a shortage of water but the quality of water is generally not good,” explains Suri. “Industry needs high purity water for manufacturing purposes, which are on the increase due to globalization” (hence the development and commercialization of water treatment technologies). The supply of water is finite, and with simple population growth, water becomes less and less available per capita. Water efficiency is a major issue globally, yet the dynamics and factors that go into each region are different.
The mission of the WET Center is to “develop technologies and methods to detect, understand, mitigate and/or control emerging contaminants (ECs) as well as other traditional contaminants in the environment that can adversely impact water quality and the environment. The vision of the WET Center is to minimize any adverse effects of ECs and other contaminants on human health and/or the environment.”