WBI Receives DOE SBIR Award for an Innovative Approach to Desalination

jwFebruary 28, 2017, Wilmington, MA – Dr. John Warner, President and CTO of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry (WBI), announces WBI’s receipt of a Phase I SBIR award from the Department of Energy (DOE)* for a program entitled “Low-cost, light-switched, forward-osmosis desalination system.”

This award furthers WBI’s mission to build a greener world and to create solutions to critical problems facing mankind.  The looming water crisis  is a profoundly critical issue, where anestimated that 663 million people,  or 10% of the world population, lack access to safe water. At the same time, one third of the world population lives without access to a toilet, one third of all schools lack access to safe water and adequate sanitation, and in low and middle-income countries, one third of all healthcare facilities lack a safe water source. As bad as the current situation is, the United Nations estimates that the average person’s fresh water supply will be cut by a third over the next 20 years due to population growth.

Desalination and water purification, using current techniques, is energy intensive and financially expensive. The system under development at WBI is based on cost/energy-effective forward osmosis. Warner believes that it can ultimately be made to be solely solar driven, drawing pure water out of saltwater during the day and releasing it at night. This would represent a paradigm shift in water purification.

John Warner is the recipient of the 2014 Perkin Medal, widely acknowledged as the highest honor in American Industrial Chemistry. In 2016 he was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science-Lemelson Invention Ambassador. He received his BS in Chemistry from UMass Boston, and his PhD in Chemistry from Princeton University. After working at the Polaroid Corporation for nearly a decade, he served as tenured full professor at UMass Boston (Chemistry) and UMass Lowell (Plastics Engineering).  In 2007 he founded WBI and Beyond Benign, a non-profit dedicated to sustainability and green chemistry education. He is one of the founders of the field of Green Chemistry, co-authoring the defining text Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice with Paul Anastas. He has published over 250 patents, papers and books. Warner received the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring (considered one of the highest awards for US science education) and the Council of Science Society President’s 2008 Leadership Award. Warner was named by ICIS as one of the most influential people impacting the global chemical industries. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and named one of “25 Visionaries Changing the World” by Utne Reader.

For more information contact

David E. Wolf, PhD, Vice President of Technology Development gov@warnerbabcock.com.



*Not an endorsement by DOE

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