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Water and Environmental Technology (WET)

Arizona State University

Temple University

The University of Arizona

Last Reviewed: 08/16/2017

WET Center focus is on development and testing of technologies to understand and mitigate emerging and traditional contaminants of concern that may adversely impact water quality and the environment.

Center Mission and Rationale

The mission is to develop methods/technologies to detect, understand, mitigate and/or control contaminants, including Emerging Contaminants (ECs), that can adversely impact water quality and the environment. The vision of the WET Center is to minimize any potential adverse effects of contaminants on human health and/or the environment.

This is a multi-university I/UCRC with a focus on water contaminants (chemical, biological, physical), water quality and water treatment technologies. The lead of the Center is Temple University with site locations at University of Arizona and Arizona State University. 

“Emerging contaminants (ECs)” generally refers to chemicals, biological agents and materials recently detected in the environment that may pose a potential or real threat to human health or the environment, but which are not generally regulated at present or are expected to undergo changes in regulations. ECs have also been referred to as micro-pollutants, chemical compounds of emerging concern, micro-constituents, trace organics, and others. 

The WET Center consists of a prestigious group of research engineers and scientists within the three partner universities. This multi-university Center enhances the abilities of partner universities to achieve national status. Center engineers and environmental scientists utilizing microbial, chemical, hydrologic, and mathematic approaches work collaboratively to perform this research.  Faculty and students work with industry representatives and build upon their previous/current research dealing with water contaminants and technologies.  The overriding intellectual merit of this Center is the impact of the industrial need-focused research program that will enhance scientific understanding and help address a potentially significant health and environmental problem.

Funding for the Center is supplied by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a variety of companies and agencies that are interested in specific water quality issues. This dynamic industry-university relationship makes the NSF WET Center unique. The combination of university expertise and corporate and government funding leads to scientific discoveries that can enhance water quality for the community at large.

Research program

WET Center research thrust areas include:

 

  • Potable water treatment technologies, security and distribution
  • Industrial and municipal wastewater, and groundwater treatment
  • Analytical methods for EC analysis
  • Biosolids and reclaimed water reuse
  • Mine tailing restoration, Marcellus shale frac wastewater management
  • Water resources & water sustainability
  • Water toxicology, estrogenicity & ecological health
  • Chemical and biological sensors for detection and monitoring
  • Microbial and chemical risk assessment

 

Areas of interest within the Center at Temple University include:

  • Analytical Methods for ECs
  • Treatment Technologies – Advanced Oxidation Processes; Sonolysis, Novel Nanoadsorbents, Ion-exchange, Microbiological Processes
  • At source and end-of-pipe treatment technologies; in-situ remediation
  • Optimization of existing POTW and industry systems
  • Water conservation and sustainability
  • Risk Assessment
  • Chemical and Biological Sensors for detection and monitoring

 

Areas of interest within the Center at The University of Arizona include:

  • Nucleic acid-based detection systems for pathogens and contaminants
  • Microbial and chemical risk assessment
  • Modeling fate and transport of chemicals and microbes
  • Smart water distribution systems
  • Microbial water quality of drinking water
  • Land application of biosolids
  • Taste and odor of potable water

 

Areas of interest within the Center at Arizona State University include:

  • Molecular tracking of microorganisms in the environment
  • Early warning system: Rapid detection of pathogens in water
  • Biofilm formation and pathogen survival/detection in distribution systems
  • Disinfection byproducts (DBPs) formation and control
  • Modeling the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment
  • Characterization of Natural Organic Matter (NOM/DOM) and taste and odor of potable water
  • Ground water recharge (surface application and aquifer storage and recovery)

 

Currently, more than 23 research projects are underway at the three Universities on the above topics.

Special Activities

The Center contributes substantially to the training and development of both graduate and undergraduate students. Students are exposed to the research and development activities of the Center. In addition, they can interact with companies from the private sector, and governmental and non-governmental agencies. This integration of the university with industry and government provides students with the opportunity to apply their skills to real-world problems. Many member companies have overseas installations and/or third party manufacturers. Hence, the environmental foot-print is very large.  Also, the students will be exposed to regulatory, technological, social and cultural aspects of different countries, enhancing their global experiences. In addition, it prepares them for future job opportunities since there are opportunities for internships with industrial partners.

Facilities and Laboratory

The Center offers state-of-the-art laboratory facilities such as analytical and treatability labs, equipped with instruments such as GC/MS/MS, UPLC MS-QToF, UPLC/MS/MS, advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) reactors, adsorption and ion exchange columns, on-line and real time sensors, and others.

 

The WET Center studies a wide variety of water purification technologies to develop new and improve existing methods.  This includes both bench-scale treatability and pilot-scale testing.  Some of the treatment technologies that are tested at the WET Center include, but not limited to, Adsorption (new and existing), Ion Exchange, Advance Oxidation Processes (ozone, UV, ultrasound, chemical oxidants), biological oxidation and biofilters. A major focus is on water reuse and energy efficiency for long term sustainability. To ensure safe use of reclaimed water for potable reuse, real-time sensors were evaluated for their ability to detect chemical and microbial contaminants instantaneously. The technology roadmap calls for technologies that will benefit Municipal and Industrial Water/Wastewater Reuse, and Smart Water Distribution Systems. Member organizations can obtain a royalty-free license to commercialize/use any technology developed by the WET Center.

Locations

Temple University

1947 N 12th Street

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19085

United States

The University of Arizona

2959 West Calle Agua Nueva

Tucson, Arizona, 85745

United States

Arizona State University

P.O. Box 875306

Tempe, Arizona, 85287

United States