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M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust awards University of Idaho $60,000 to develop machine that purifies wastewater

January 10, 2019

Moscow, Idaho — The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has awarded $60,000 to the University of Idaho to support a team of researchers developing a new technology that purifies wastewater and helps stop toxic algae blooms.

The award is part of Murdock’s continued investment in helping scientists bring potentially lifesaving and community-changing technology to market through the Commercialization Initiation Program.

“Our goal is to support scientific endeavors throughout the Pacific Northwest and enable students and scientists to make the kinds of discoveries that will shape our world for decades or even centuries to come,” said Steve Moore, executive director of Murdock Charitable Trust. “We are honored to fund the University of Idaho’s groundbreaking research with their second grant in as many years and more than 50 grants since the Murdock Trust was founded.”

A game changer for clean water

The Murdock Trust’s most recent grant is for U of I's Clean Water Machine, which treats wastewater from municipal and agricultural uses and turns it into:

  1. Clean water that, in many cases, will be safe to drink.
  2. Fertilizers that add phosphorus and nitrogen to soil.
  3. Products that sequester carbon in soil.

Funding from the Murdock Trust will allow university researchers to continue perfecting the machine so that, eventually, it will be available for commercial use. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Professor Greg Moller is leading the project.

“The Murdock Trust’s support will help to improve this new technology and speed its transfer to everyday uses,” Moller said. “Our work shows remarkable efficiency in solving difficult water quality problems and adaptability to varied conditions.”

The true demonstration of the U of I Clean Water Machine begins soon with planning work in the algae-impacted Klamath Basin, coordinated by the office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and the U.S. Geological Survey. Moller’s team is also working with industry partners in the design of a response to algae pollution in the Florida Everglades as a finalist in the $10 million Everglades Foundation's George Barley Water Prize international competition in 2020.

Water reuse is a significant area of market opportunity. The Clean Water Machine is scalable and economically viable, and it is successfully addressing this area of market growth. The proposed research fills critical knowledge gaps in scientific, operational, and engineering economics. This technology has recently advanced to the final stage of a $10 million competition beating out more than 100 global competitors to find the best way to stop toxic algae blooms from poisoning drinking water supplies and the environment.

More details here: https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/clean-water-machine/journey

A commitment to bring research to market

Founded in 1975, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust provides grants to organizations and universities across five states – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  This grant marks approximately $2 million awarded to U of I by the Trust and $4.3 million to support research and education in Idaho since 2011 over the past seven years.

There are limited funding opportunities available to bring scientific research concepts from blueprint to marketable prototype. The Murdock Trust is working to change that by supporting the commercialization of scientific discoveries at a select group of major research universities in the Northwest through its Commercialization Initiative Program.

“Our goal is to help bring brilliant ideas off the bench and into the marketplace where they can help communities flourish and thrive," said Moses Lee, senior director of scientific research and enrichment programs at the Murdock Trust. "We are grateful to be able to partner with so many brilliant scientists at Northwest universities and play a small role in helping bring their life-changing concepts to light."

For more information on the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and information about how to apply for grants, go to murdocktrust.org.

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington – that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 6,500 grants totaling more than $970 million. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and on their website.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at uidaho.edu