$800,000 NSF Partnership for Innovation – Connecting Research and Industry

Junhong Chen, a Mechanical Engineering professor in UWM’s College of Engineering, was recently awarded an NSF Partnership for Innovation grant for $800,000. This type of grant is designed to foster collaboration between universities and industry to commercialize technology. Chen has partnered with A.O. Smith, Badger Meter and an UWM start up, NanoAffix Science, LLC to produce sensors that can be installed in existing water equipment to monitor the quality of water in real time. Current methods and technology including spectroscopic and electrochemical approaches are expensive and cannot give real-time updates on water quality. In addition to being able to give readings in real-time, Chen’s sensors outperform and eliminate many disadvantages usually associated with the existing water testing methods and practices. These sensors can be placed in A.O. Smith’s water purifiers, Badger Meter’s water meters and can be placed in hand held devices as well. Specifically the sensors look for heavy metal ions in water but Chen says that it could be developed to monitor other particles including bacteria in the water.

The project also offers opportunities for students and postdoctoral fellows to gain entrepreneurial and technology translation experience through hands on training.

To hear more about Dr. Chen’s research listen to his recent interview on UWM Today with Tom Luljak here.