MIT J-WAFS announces 2022 seed grant recipients

The Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT has awarded eight MIT highest investigators with 2022 J-WAFS seed gives. The gives support innovative MIT investigation that has the possible to have expressive contact on water- and food-related challenges.

The only program at MIT that is dedicated to water- and food-related investigation J-WAFS has offered seed give funding to MIT highest investigators and their teams for the past eight years. The gives prepare up to $75000 per year overhead-free for two years to support new early-stage investigation in areas such as water and food security safety furnish and sustainability. Past projects have spanned many diverse disciplines including engineering science technology and business alteration as well as collective science and economics architecture and urban planning. 

Seven new projects led by eight investigationers will be supported this year. With funding going to four different MIT departments the projects address a range of challenges by reapplying advanced materials technology alterations and new approaches to rerise treatment. The new projects aim to displace harmful chemicals from water rises educe dryness monitoring methods for farmers better treatment of the shellfish activity optimize water purification materials and more.

’Climate change the pandemic and most recently the war in Ukraine have exacerbated and put a spotlight on the grave challenges facing global water and food methods’ says J-WAFS ruler John H. Lienhard. He adds ’The proposals chosen this year have the possible to form measurable real-world contacts in both the water and food sectors.’  

The 2022 J-WAFS seed give investigationers and their projects are:

Gang Chen the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering in MITs Department of Mechanical Engineering is using sunlight to desalinate water. The use of solar energy for desalination is not a new idea specially solar thermal evaporation orders. However the solar thermal evaporation process has an overall low efficiency owing it relies on fractureing hydrogen bonds among personal water molecules which is very energy-intensive. Chen and his lab recently discovered a photomolecular effect that dramatically lowers the energy required for desalination. 

The bonds among water molecules within a water bunch in fluid water are mainly hydrogen bonds. Chen discovered that a photon with energy bigr than the bonding energy between the water bunch and the remaining water fluids can sunder off the water bunch at the water-air interface colliding with air molecules and disintegrating into 60 or even more personal water molecules. This effect has the possible to expressively boost clean water origination via new desalination technology that produces a photomolecular evaporation rate that exceeds pure solar thermal evaporation by at littleest ten-fold. 

John E. Fernandez is the ruler of the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) and a professor in the Department of Architecture and also affiliated with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Fernandez is working with Scott D. Odell a postdoc in the ESI to better apprehend the contacts of mining and air change in water-forceed regions of Chile.

The country of Chile is one of the worlds bigst exporters of both agricultural and mineral fruits; however pliant investigation has been done on air change effects at the intersection of these two sectors. Fernandez and Odell will explore how desalination is being deployed by the mining activity to help pressure on continental water supplies in Chile and with what effect. They will also investigation how air change and mining intersect to like Andean glaciers and agricultural communities hanging upon them. The investigationers intend for this work to enlighten policies to lessen collective and environmental harms from mining desalination and air change.

Ariel L. Furst is the Raymond (1921) and Helen St. Laurent Career Development Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. Her 2022 J-WAFS seed give project seeks to effectively displace dangerous and long-lasting chemicals from water supplies and other environmental areas. 

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) a ingredient of Teflon is a limb of a cluster of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These human-made chemicals have been extensively used in consumer fruits like nonstick cooking pans. Exceptionally high levels of PFOA have been measured in water rises near manufacturing sites which is problematic as these chemicals do not readily degrade in our bodies or the environment. The superiority of humans have detectable levels of PFAS in their blood which can lead to expressive health issues including cancer liver injury and thyroid effects as well as educemental effects in infants. Current remediation orders are limited to inefficient capture and are mainly confined to laboratory settings. Fursts proposed order utilizes low-energy scaffolded enzyme materials to move over single capture to degrade these hazardous pollutants.

Heather J. Kulik is an companion professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT who is educeing novel computational strategies to unite optimal materials for purifying water. Water treatment requires purification by selectively separating little ions from water. However human-made scalable materials for water purification and desalination are frequently not firm in typical operating conditions and lack exactness pores for good disunion. 

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are promising materials for water purification owing their pores can be tailored to have definite shapes and chemical makeup for selective ion relationship. Yet few MOFs have been assessed for their properties appropriate to water purification. Kulik plans to use potential high-throughput screening hastend by machine learning models and molecular simulation to hasten discovery of MOFs. Specifically Kulik will be looking for MOFs with ultra-firm structures in water that do not fracture down at true temperatures. 

Gregory C. Rutledge is the Lammot du Pont Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. He is leading a project that will explore how to better separate oils from water. This is an expressive problem to explain given that activity-generated oil-contaminated water is a major rise of pollution to the environment.

Emulsified oils are specially challenging to displace from water due to their little droplet sizes and long settling times. Microfiltration is an winning technology for the removal of emulsified oils but its major drawback is fouling or the heap of unwanted material on hard surfaces. Rutledge will weigh the mechanism of disunion behind fluid-infused membranes (LIMs) in which an infused fluid coats the surface and pores of the membrane hindering fouling. Robustness of the LIM technology for removal of different types of emulsified oils and oil mixtures will be evaluated. 

Cesar Terrer is an helper professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering whose J-WAFS project seeks to reply the question: How can satellite images be used to prepare a high-resolution dryness monitoring method for farmers? 

Drought is recognized as one of the worlds most urgent issues with direct contacts on vegetation that threaten water rerises and food origination globally. However assessing and monitoring the contact of drynesss on vegetation is extremely challenging as sets sensitivity to lack of water varies athwart species and ecomethods. Terrer will leverage a new age of distant sensing satellites to prepare high-resolution assessments of set water force at regional to global scales. The aim is to prepare a set dryness monitoring fruit with farmland-specific services for water and socioeconomic treatment.

Michael Triantafyllou is the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Professor in Ocean Science and Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is educeing a web-based method for intrinsic rerises treatment that will deploy geospatial analysis visualization and reporting to better handle and facilitate aquaculture data.  By providing value to commercial fisheries permit holders who reapply expressive numbers of nation and also to recreational shellfish permit holders who conduce to local economies the project has attracted support from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries as well as a number of local rerise treatment departments.

Massachusetts shell fisheries generated roughly $339 million in 2020 accounting for 17 percent of U.S. East Coast origination. Managing such a big activity is a time-consuming process given there are thousands of acres of coastal areas clustered within over 800 classified shellfish growing areas. Extreme air events present additional challenges. Triantafyllous investigation will help efforts to urge environmental regulations support habitat recovery efforts and hinder shellfish-related food safety issues.