Grant Research Questions

PIRE image2Six research tasks were developed under the overarching theme of reclaiming energy, water, and nutrients from wastewater.

Click on the Tasks below for more information.

For this PIRE project a team of U.S. and international researchers have identified six research tasks for study. Two research tasks specifically address advancing the methods, materials, and protection of human health of the technologies themselves; two tasks explore these technologies in the context of geographical location and environmental impacts; and the remaining two tasks focus on the comprehensive systems research across economic, environmental, and societal domains through life cycle assessment approaches and systems dynamics modeling.

Our overall framework assumes that solutions to global sustainability challenges must incorporate a sustainable design process that integrates engineered, social, and environmental systems (Mihelcic et al., 2003; Boyle et al., 2010). Our international partnerships provide unique advantages of scope, scale, knowledge, and facilities that enable scientific advances to our existing knowledge base by allowing us to investigate interdependencies of water and energy at different spatial scales (individual/home to urban). We propose, along with our partners, to develop the scientific bases for technological innovation and locally meaningful cultural models to chart how belief systems, human values and perceptions, and collective behaviors are critical to sustainable management of water and energy (Dietz et al., 2009; Lopez-Gunn & Ramón Llamas, 2008). We envision that our international collaborations will catalyze the transfer of best ideas and practices so that participants experience bidirectional information transmission—the developed and developing worlds, and the past and present—informing one another and leading to innovations through mutually-beneficial transfers of knowledge (Zarger & Stepp, 2004; Ramaswami et al., 2007).

Boyle, C., Mudd, G., Mihelcic, J.R., Anastas, P., Collins, T., Culligan, P., Edwards, M., Gabe, J., Gallagher, P., Handy, S., Kao, J., Krumdieck, S., Lyles, L.D., Mason, I., Mcdowall, R., Pearce, A., Riedy, C., Russell, J., Schnoor, J.L., Trotz, M., Venables, R., Zimmerman, J.B., Fuchs, V., Miller, S., Page, S., Reeder-Emery, K. (2010). Delivering sustainable infrastructure that supports the urban built environmentEnvironmental Science & Technology, 44(13):4836-4840.
Dietz, T., Gardner, G.T., Gilligan, J., Stern, P.C., Vandenbergh, M.P. (2009). Household actions can provide a behavioral wedge to rapidly reduce US carbon emissions, PNAS, 106(44):18452-18456.
Lopez-Gunn, E., Ramón Llamas, M. (2008). Re-thinking water scarcity: Can science and technology solve the global water crisis? Natural Resources Forum, 32:228-238.
Mihelcic, J.R., Crittenden, J.C., Small, M.J., Shonnard, D.R., Hokanson, D.R., Zhang, Q., Chen, H., Sorby, S.A., James, V.U., Sutherland, J.W., Schnoor, J.L. (2003). Sustainability science and engineering: emergence of a new metadiscipline, Environmental Science & Technology, 37(23):5314-5324.
Ramaswami, R., Zimmerman, J.B., Mihelcic, J.R. (2007). Integrating developed and developing world knowledge into global discussions and strategies for sustainability, part 2: economics and governance. Environmental Science & Technology, 41(10):3422-3430.
Zarger, R.K., Stepp, J.R. (2004). Persistence of botanical knowledge among Tzeltal Maya children, Current Anthropology, 45(3):413-418.