BASF selects research project for Sustainable Living Lab

Staff Report

Louisiana State University (LSU) and BASF selected Kevin McPeak, Ph.D. as the first researcher in residence at the BASF Sustainable Living Laboratory. BASF donated $1 million to the LSU College of Engineering in 2014 to create an innovative space that promotes problem-based teaching and research focused on sustainable solutions to global challenges. The lab is the first of its kind at LSU and in the Southeast region, and is located in the newly designed Patrick F. Taylor Hall College of Engineering building opening this fall.

Dr. McPeak and his research group will use the BASF Sustainable Living Lab to develop a water disinfection system using visible light from the sun. This portable water filtration system has the potential to provide safe drinking water in developing countries where traditional energy-intensive disinfection methods are not feasible.

This opportunity to create chemistry with BASF elevates the chances of this research becoming a real solution to providing safe drinking water globally,” McPeak said. “There is great synergy between BASF’s sustainability mission—to make the best use of available resources—and our use of visible light from the sun to disinfect water.”

Approximately 1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water, resulting in one child dying every 20 seconds from water-related illnesses. BASF, through its partnership with LSU, is driving sustainable solutions to improve quality of life for the world’s growing population. Traditional methods for solar driven water purification only utilize ultraviolet light, which makes up five percent of the solar spectrum, whereas visible light constitutes over 40 percent of the solar spectrum.

Solving water scarcity concerns amid growing demand is central to BASF’s commitment to sustainability,” said Charlene Warren-Wall, Sustainability Director, BASF North America. “Aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, BASF believes everyone should have access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Dr. McPeak’s dedication to building water purification systems using visible light could bring much needed access to many populations in water-stressed geographies.”

The project is part of BASF’s workforce development activities in the Gulf Coast region to invest in students and prepare them for career opportunities in science, technology engineering and math (STEM). In addition, the BASF Sustainable Living Lab will support broader community and STEM outreach efforts with local elementary and high schools. The research will be showcased through school tours and webcasts as well as being used in other educational resources.

Our long-standing relationship with LSU is a great example of the successful partnerships BASF creates in the communities in which we operate,” said Tom Yura, Senior Vice President, BASF site in Geismar. “Whether it is through our financial support for research, or mentoring, professional development and recruitment of LSU students, we believe the best talent for the future workforce can be found in our own backyards.”