Description: Purdue iGEM 2016: Clean Water for All This year our team is taking a holistic approach to improving clean water access in the world. To do so, we are engineering two strains of E. coli: one to uptake phosphorus so as to prevent toxic algal growth in lakes and streams and another to express functional, organic nanowires to generate energy from organic waste and improve microbial desalination cell efficiency. By expressing these genes in E. coli we hope to provide a platform for further study and application in agriculture, the environment, and alternative energy. Why Clean Water? While brainstorming for our 2016 project, we decided that we wanted to pursue a project that was specific enough to be applicable to the needs of our community, yet broad enough in scope so as to benefit the global community as a whole. The two biggest two issues we found that met these criteria were the domestic and agricultural misuse of phosphorus and our current energy-intensive and economically expensive water treatment practices.To give more detail, phosphorus is a nonrenewable resource essential in agriculture, yet projections estimate that global phosphorus could be all but depleted in 30-40 years. Still, excess phosphorus in lakes causes algae growth that harms the ecosystem. It is our belief that wastewater treatment is a key place to prevent phosphorus from entering lakes while also allowing the phosphorus to be harvested for further use. As to the other side of our project, microbial fuel and microbial desalination cells (MFCs/MDCs) are systems capable of intaking waste or salinated water and then using bacteria to produce an electric current for energy use or the removal of dissolved salts. Currently we know little about which bacteria can grow and function inside of MDCs/MFCs, but by introducing nanowires like those present in Shewanella bacteria into E. coli we hope to engineer the tools of discovery for other scientists, engineers to make the next great improvement. What We Hope to Accomplish Our ultimate dream is to develop a self-contained unit (microbial fuel or desalination cell) capable of removing various nutrients and impurities (i.e. phosphorus/nitrogen) from grimy, opaque water, polluted by industry, agriculture, and daily living, which can then produce clean, sparkling, drinkable water. This unit would be applicable in both the developing and the developed world and would require little more knowledge than what is required to maintain a small swimming pool.
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Year: 2016Visit Wiki
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Updated at: 8/9/16