Xiao Su receives seed funding to make Illinois' water supply more sustainable

9/14/2021

Claire Benjamin

Professor Xiao Su receives Illinois Innovation Network 2021 seed funding to investigate the viability of a new electrochemical wastewater-treatment system. Image source: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Wastewater#/media/File:2012-05-28_Fotoflug_Cuxhaven_Wilhelmshaven_DSCF9562.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a>
Professor Xiao Su receives Illinois Innovation Network 2021 seed funding to investigate the viability of a new electrochemical wastewater-treatment system. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professor Xiao Su joins one of eight research teams across the state awarded $229,000 in seed grants from the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) in its second round of funding to support vaccine distribution, strengthen the state’s teacher pipeline, and to create a more sustainable water supply system in Illinois. 

The funding is part of IIN’s Sustaining Illinois program, which is designed to increase collaborative research among the state’s public universities, focusing on the economy, health, and social well-being, while addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sustaining Illinois now includes 12 funded projects, including four that were announced in July 2020.

Su’s project “Sustainable water supply system in Illinois using innovative electrochemical treatment technology” will investigate the viability of a new electrochemical wastewater-treatment system. The research team also includes Northern Illinois University professors Tomoyuki Shibata, associate professor of public health, and Kyu Taek Cho, associate professor of mechanical engineering. 

“It’s very exciting to collaborate with fellow researchers at NIU to tackle these local problems on electrochemical water treatment,” Su said. “We’re hoping to evaluate emerging electrochemical separation technologies for sustaining the water supply, enhancing water conservation, and remediating contamination sites across the Illinois basin.” 

The team aims to combine new materials development with electrochemical modeling, as well as public policy research, to provide more energy-efficient methods for localized water treatment, specifically looking at dilute metal contaminants.

IIN is a group of 15 university-based hubs across the state working to boost Illinois’ economy through entrepreneurship, research and workforce development. The seed funding was provided by the University of Illinois System and NIU.

“These eight new projects in the Sustaining Illinois program build upon the strengths of our state’s public universities,” U of I System interim Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation Jay Walsh said. “All of the proposals we received were excellent, and we are excited to see these funded projects move forward and benefit Illinois’ people.”

The proposals were required to include researchers from at least two IIN hubs and be completed within one year of receiving funding. Proposals were evaluated on their alignment with IIN principles, how well they address their stated areas of sustainability, the scope of their work and the level of collaboration, as well as their potential for further work.

To learn more about the other IIN seed-funded projects, check out their announcement.