CS&E’s Vipin Kumar Serves as Key Partner on Great Lakes Water Innovation Engine

Department of Computer Science & Engineering Regents Professor Vipin Kumar will serve as a key partner on the University of Minnesota team that is part of the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Regional Innovation Engines award. The regional consortium Great Lakes ReNEW will receive up to $160 million over the next 10 years to develop and grow a water-focused innovation engine in the Great Lakes region.

Based in Chicago, Great Lakes ReNEW aims to create a decarbonized circular “Blue Economy” that will recover energy, nutrients and other critical materials from water and wastewater in the upper Midwest. At the U of M, scientists are working on a number of projects, including creating carbon-based sensors to detect pollutants in water, and expanding and improving technologies in the water treatment process. Kumar’s group will bring the power of machine learning to optimize different steps involved in the treatment of waste water while recovering nutrients in an energy efficient manner.

“Machine learning will play a role in every step of this complex process," Kumar said. "For example, sensors will create data during the water treatment process that will be analyzed using deep-learning based inverse models to identify specific energy-rich nutrients and pollutants. Machine learning in combination with traditional process-based models will also help improve the energy efficiency of the entire cycle. My research group will collaborate with all of the researchers at the University of Minnesota working on this project.”

Additionally, Great Lakes ReNEW will also provide access for technology testbed sites, accelerating their potential for commercial development. In turn, these technologies will generate new startup ventures and job opportunities in the region.

“People in the Great Lakes region have been working on related technologies for many decades,” said Kumar. “So this project from NSF is funded to turbocharge the research process and encourage the formation of corporations and start-ups to take this technology and bring it to people.”

Read the full CSE press release for more information.