ME Professor Tianhong Cui to Co-Lead Great Lakes Water Innovation Engine

Tianhong Cui will co-lead a University of Minnesota team that is part of an NSF-funded Regional Innovation Engine award, with a potential $160 million in support to grow a water-focused collective of more than 200 water experts in the Great Lakes region. Say hello to Great Lakes ReNEW!

ME Headshot
Tianhong Cui
ME Headshot
Terrence Simon

Cui and Terrence Simon will lead a project to build carbon-based sensors based on advanced manufacturing in micro and nano scales to combat a water crisis caused in part by the increasingly high levels of water pollutants, most of which are not adequately monitored due to bulky and expensive instrumentation for water monitoring. This new carbon-based sensor and sensor network will help the end-users including water quality control and regulatory agencies, researchers, and advocacy groups for continuous detection and analysis of waters, and develop techniques to mitigate water contaminations. 

The project’s ambitious plan is to create a decarbonized circular “blue economy” to leverage the region’s extraordinary water resources to transform the upper Midwest — Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. 

​​“This work allows us to collectively address water problems and advance collaboration between U of M researchers, governmental agencies and industry partners from Minnesota and across the region,” said Cui. “Working together, we can develop innovative water technologies for emerging startup companies and create more job opportunities to boost the economy in Minnesota and beyond.”

As the engine develops it will support many additional research projects, enabling collaboration among more Minnesota water experts and other partner institutions in the Great Lakes. The engine 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.

Read the full CSE press release here.