The University of Maryland is reaching across the globe to share its expertise, research and innovation in addressing critical water challenges as the newest member of the U.S. Water Partnership. UMD is one of only six university members that will collaborate on solutions that demonstrate U.S. leadership on international water issues.
Population growth, climate change, and energy demands have strained the world’s water resources. According to the United Nations, 11% of the global population, or 783 million people, are still without access to improved sources of drinking water. The partnership’s 61 members, comprised from the public and private sectors, are dedicating over half a billion dollars of in-kind and cash support to international water-related projects over the next five years.
“Major national research universities need to be part of demand-driven solutions to meet global water challenges like this one,” said Eric D. Wachsman, director of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC), which will play a leading role in the partnership. “This is no longer just an energy or environmental issue, water stands at the intersection of national security, foreign policy, public health and economic stability.”
The U.S. Water Partnership’s special focus on developing countries means that UMD researchers have the potential to affect change in Africa and South Asia, working with on-the-ground partnership members, such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation, World Vision, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation.
“We are interested in the effect of energy consumption in the developed world and how it impacts water availability in the developing world,” said Wachsman.
UMERC researchers are already actively engaged in sustainable energy research with a focus on the energy-water nexus. This includes the effects of climate change on water availability, low energy water purification, and reducing water demand for power generation.
Research-informed innovations such as a solar-powered system for drinking water purification, advanced microbial fuel cells to produce electric power from water contaminants, or a system that can effectively recover water from steam generated during energy production could effectively address these critical issues.
A team from UMD, including several UMERC-affiliated faculty were awarded first place in the 2011 Solar Decathlon with the Maryland WaterShed house, which integrated energy and water sustainability.
Located in the heart of the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland, the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) is a multidisciplinary initiative dedicated to advancing the frontiers of energy science and technology, with a special focus on forward-looking approaches for alternative energy generation and storage. UMERC is administered by the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and includes faculty from all Clark School departments, as well as from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, the School of Public Policy, and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Developing energy efficient and environmentally sustainable technologies, while educating the public about energy and environmental technologies, is only part of UMERC’s mission. With faculty expertise in both energy technology and policy, UMERC provides the research and data to inform the larger policy debate on urgent, global sustainable energy and environment issues. UMERC brings together the research capabilities necessary to create a sustainable energy future and establish the State of Maryland as a leader in sustainable energy.
November 20, 2013