UW-Milwaukee: Research foundation awards new catalyst grants

Three new research projects at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will divide $150,000 in Catalyst Grant seed funding from the UWM Research Foundation.

Now in its 14th year, the Catalyst Grant Program, supported by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, has awarded over $5.5 million in seed funding for more than 100 projects. These projects have led to 55 issued patents, 31 license/option agreements and more than $23.4 million in follow-on investments in UWM technologies.

These grants support promising research and development in areas where UWM has the greatest potential to impact the regional economy through commercialization activities.

Recycling produced water from oil and gas mining
Charles Paradis (geosciences) and doctoral student Josh Swigart will implement a novel system to recycle “produced water,” which is naturally occurring water that comes out of the ground along with oil and gas. The treated water can be reused for hydraulic fracturing, crop watering, potable water for livestock and for inorganic metals resource recovery.

Bioreactors that aid in PFAS removal
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are human-made chemicals that have contaminated water sources throughout the U.S. These chemicals do not break down in the environment or in the body and are known human health threats. Shangping Xu (geosciences), Yin Wang (civil engineering) and Erica Young (biological sciences) are developing cost-effective bioreactors that can accumulate PFAS to aid in its removal, particularly under challenging environmental conditions with high PFAS concentrations.

3D printing of graphene-reinforced nanocomposites
As a reinforcement material in aluminum (Al) composites, graphene, a carbon-based material, offers one of the highest strengths. But achieving the right ratios of graphene in this matrix has not been possible with current techniques. Pradeep Rohatgi (materials science and engineering) is developing a technology that can produce ultralight, high-strength, high temperature-resistant Al-based nanocomposites that can be used in range of applications including automotive, aerospace, military and many more.