Core: Achieve fast and repetitive materials conversions with minimal energy.
Energy and Water are the first two of the “Top Ten Problems of Humanity for Next 50 Years”. Clean energy and water saves the environment, brings more food, eradicate poverty, allows education to thrive, which, in turn, answer to numerous socioeconomic challenges or threats in the current world.
Unlike in natural enzymes, in the systematic development of man-made systems, two properties, reactivity/fast activity and stability, always opposed each other. However, to achieve clean energy and water we need to master the art of attaining both reactivity and stability with the same system.
Previously, Sid, with the help of his very talented research group, had pioneered the development of the first set of man-made systems where fast conversions of materials could be coupled with the sustainability of the material; i.e. the systems were both highly reactive and highly stable, at the same time. These systems have been dubbed as the only promising ways for clean energy from sunlight.
New Technology for Water Desalination. Seas and/or oceans cover 70% of the Earth's surface and hold 97% of the Earth's water resource. To make this water accessible to us, we need to desalinate them (i.e. remove the salt from the sea water).
Current state-of-the-art desalination processes use reverse osmosis (RO). This is an enormously energy-intensive process. If one makes 100% efficient (which is only a theoretical possibility) RO process, even then the energy requirement will be massive, because the process, by nature, is a thermodynamically uphill process. The other currently used method for desalination involves thermal process, which is even more energy intensive than RO.
With energy being the most necessary commodity, it is hard to envision how RO is going to bring clean water, especially to those places in the world that are most in need.
New technology will make the water desalination a thermodynamically downhill process.* Thus obtaining drinking water from salty sea water will cost no more energy than regular water treatment.
This means those places in the world where drinking water and energy are not in abundance, will too have their share of clean, drinking water; and, everywhere, sea water to drinking water will become a sustainable, green process.
*Use of innovative materials science allows material's natural properties achieving the desalination of the sea water; therefore, no external energy input is necessary.