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March 25, 2016

NNI Agencies Announce Nanotechnology Signature Initiative for Water Sustainability

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) issued a March 23, 2016, press release concerning the launch of a Nanotechnology Signature Initiative (NSI), Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology:  Nanoscale Solutions for a Global-Scale Challenge.  The Office of Science and Technology posted a blog item on March 23, 2016, concerning the new NSI, stating that it is intended “to take advantage of the unique properties of engineered nanomaterials to generate game-changing breakthroughs that can alleviate stresses on the water supply and enable sustainable use of our Nation’s water resources.”  The specific “thrusts” of the water NSI are to:

  1. Increase water availability using nanotechnology;
  2. Improve the efficiency of water delivery and use with nanotechnology; and
  3. Enable next-generation water monitoring systems with nanotechnology.

white paper on the water NSI highlights key technical challenges for each thrust, identifies key objectives to overcome those challenges, and notes promising areas of research and development where nanotechnology promises to provide the needed solutions.  The water NSI will leverage federal agencies’ existing and emerging efforts to create the necessary technical breakthroughs, including:  the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Water-Energy Tech Team; the Innovations at the Food-Energy-Water Nexus activity at the National Science Foundation (NSF); the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 Water Technology Innovation Blueprint, Promoting Technology Innovation for Clean and Safe Water.  Other collaborating agencies include the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).