Vicki Colvin, Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Chemistry, and Pedro Alvarez, the George R. Brown Professor of Engineering and department chair of civil and environmental engineering, share a common goal — to give more people access to clean drinking water.
More than 1 billion people do not have access to safe water, and in poor countries, waterborne disease is a leading cause of death. In many large cities, deteriorating or insufficient distribution networks present new challenges to providing clean water. The Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies seeks to develop point-of-use water treatment technologies that will revolutionize the future of global health.
Colvin and her colleagues at Rice’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology have developed a low-cost technology called “nanorust” to remove arsenic from drinking water. The process, developed in collaboration with Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering Mason Tomson, uses a combination of olive oil, rust and magnets. It is efficient enough to be used in water-treatment plants and simple enough to be employed in urban and rural homes throughout the developing world.
Alvarez, who collaborates closely with Colvin and other Rice researchers, develops sustainable and costeffective water treatment systems that do not require extensive infrastructure. He and his colleagues recently developed a water-purification method using nanoparticles triggered by sunlight to disinfect against pathogens and destroy trace organic pollutants that can cause cancer or disrupt hormones.
Rice 360°’s $60 million overall goal includes a $30 million initiative to expand research programs in point-of-care diagnostics and point-of-use water treatment by using the dual lens of bioengineering and nanoscience and leveraging our partnerships in the Texas Medical Center.
For more information about supporting Rice 360°, call the Office of Resource Development at 713-348-4600 or visit the Rice 360° website.