Objective: ISEN will design, simulate, and integrate innovative materials and engineered bioprocesses into water systems to achieve global solutions for regional and local water challenges.
Water is required for life and for all natural ecosystems. Yet water cannot be effectively produced. Instead, it must recycle through natural reservoirs – including rivers, lakes, groundwaters, glaciers, and the oceans– making it a precious commodity.
The combination of over-exploitation and ecosystem degradation threatens the security of freshwater resources and, by extension, human society in many parts of the world. Globally, water scarcity is contributing to political instability in regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.
While the most commonly recognized water challenge is the lack of safe drinking water for 700 million people globally, larger challenges loom at the intersection of global water supply, food and energy production, and the sustainability of critical natural systems.
LEVERAGE our materials and catalysis expertise to design new technologies for water monitoring and processing.
EXPLORE the dynamics of the water-energy nexus and associated technologies and innovative policy options that can unwind system interdependencies.
INTEGRATE theory, data, and models to predict large-scale, long-term outcomes in complex water-energy-food ecosystems, and enable safe, efficient, and sustainable management of water remediation applications.
BUILD global partnerships that give Northwestern researchers access to diverse water environments to develop, test, and deploy water solutions.
WHY IT MATTERS:
- By 2025, 1.8 billion people are expected to face water scarcity.
- The World Economic Forum recently identified water as the most critical global challenge for the next 10 years, with water crises posing the single largest global risk for social instability.
- Climate change is expected to further exacerbate water crises by enhancing weather extremes in many regions, leading to simultaneous increases in droughts and floods.
- Urban flooding often represents a chronic challenge to municipalities.
- The US water infrastructure is antiquated, representing the potential for $206 billion in cumulative economic losses by 2020, and $2 trillion by 2040.