NSF Research Award for Sustainable Water, Energy, and Food Nexus

Dr. Gabriel Terejanu is part of a group of researchers that have received a $2M NSF grant for the creation of a "Center for a Sustainable Water, Energy, and Food Nexus (SusWEF)". The other investigators on the project are
Nelson Cardona-Martinez (UPR), Juan Lopez-Garriga (UPR), Maria Curet-Arana (UPR), and Andreas Heyden (USC).

Non-technical Description

The project addresses the food-energy-water nexus for agriculture in the collaborating jurisdictions (PR and SC). Experimental and computation methods will be combined to better understand biomass deconstruction, the use of lignin for soil improvement, and to develop separation technologies for water treatment. The anticipated outcomes will lead to more sustainable agricultural practices, improved energy efficiency and soil and water quality. A comprehensive suite of education and outreach activities will provide training for K-12 teachers, research experiences for undergraduate and graduate students, and mentoring for early career faculty. These programs will recruit underrepresented minorities and women and broaden their participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.

Technical Description

This project will support complementary, collaborative research between the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPR) and the University of South Carolina Columbia (USC) to address fundamental issues in biomass deconstruction, catalysis, lignin, and membranes separation technology for engineering improved agricultural sustainability. UPR will perform bottom-up design of nanostructured catalysts for targeted transformation of biomass waste into value added chemicals as well as the study of soil amendment using lignin. USC will focus on the development of advanced composites and membranes to remove contaminants of emerging concern from irrigation water.