By: Laura Otto
As the Korean city of Daegu works to establish itself as an economic water cluster, a film crew from the Korean Broadcasting System recently completed a documentary about fostering new water technology – and devoted 10 minutes of its show to activities in Milwaukee.
Mail delivery to the wrong office in Milwaukee’s Global Water Center sparked a research partnership resulting in a super-sensor that is a finalist in the NASA iTech Challenge competition. Designed by David Rice of Rice Technology LLC and tested with UWM environmental engineer Marcia Silva, the sensor can quickly and inexpensively measure multiple contaminants in water, including viruses, which are so small they pass through bacterial filters.
Dr. Woo Jin Chang, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, has developed a menu of miniature electrochemical sensors that can detect—at low-cost and instantaneously—heavy metals, water acidity, and nutrients in drinking water and other fluids. Three Wisconsin companies have licensed the sensor and now Chang and his co-inventor are collaborating with a California-based company to commercialize it.
David Rice, president of Milwaukee-based Rice Technology LLC, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee scientist Marcia Silva are among 10 finalists in a NASA program aimed at finding ideas to solve critical problems on Earth and in future space exploration.
A graphene-based water sensor developed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee outperforms current technologies for sensing speed, accuracy and sensitivity – exactly what’s needed to continuously monitor drinking water for miniscule traces of contaminants like lead. But the cost of mass-producing these tiny sensors using traditional methods is high.