Global Center for Water Technology

What We Do

The Global Center for Water Technology (GCWT) at Arizona State University, as part of the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative (AWII), addresses the water quantity and quality concerns of current and future Arizona water users by rapidly developing, commercializing and deploying advanced technologies for water augmentation, conservation, treatment and reuse. Working with industrial, municipal, agricultural, tribal and international partners, the Center links world-class researchers and students with companies to support energy production, microchip manufacturing, information technology, industrial cooling, agriculture, tourism and other industries.

The Southwest U.S. has been in drought for much of the last two decades, and there is clear evidence pointing to a more arid future with reduced water resources and increased salinity. Water storage in the major reservoirs has reached record lows and led to the first ever water shortage on the Colorado River in 2022. Recent and future cuts in water supply could affect municipal, industrial, and agricultural users as well as power generation, each of which employ different technologies to tailor the water quality for their specific needs.

This fit-for-purpose water quality engineering ranges from ultrapure water at semi-conductor fabrication facilities to drinking water free of regulated or emerging pollutants. It also reduces the over $100M in annual economic damages caused by water hardness in home plumbing, cooling towers, plus the energy industry, and provides irrigation waters with suitable sodium adsorption ratios to maximize plant productivity. Financial markets and national press increasingly point to drought-related water resource pressures on local governments and water quality treatment costs at the point of water use that could limit economic growth.

Innovation & Impact

We are developing and advancing innovative technologies that are enhancing water quality while aiming to generate an additional 250,000 acre-feet per year of sustainable water annually within a decade.

The Center is undertaking the following four primary activities:

  • Developing technology roadmaps tailored to Arizona that prioritize research needs and technology demonstration opportunities

  • Discovering new materials and processes that lead to patents, new technologies, and companies that revolutionize how water is produced and used in Arizona
  • Developing demonstration sites in Arizona that enable evaluation of cutting edge solutions in the field to shorten their time to adoption
  • Producing talent and opportunities that advance the water-related workforce in Arizona



Semiconductor - Water Reuse Demonstration & Research Facility

The recent CHIPS and Science Act was signed into the US law in 2022. The act focuses on expediting the chip manufacturing facilities within the US and accelerating research, training and expansion of domestic microelectronics production. Arizona plays a critical role in its overall success as there are several large semiconductor facilities here in Arizona. The GCWT's Semiconductor – Water Reuse demonstration and Research facility is addressing water-related challenges with practical and innovative treatment practices, particularly for the semiconductor industry. GCWT's research is providing much-needed insight from effective treatment and management to increasing the semiconductor industry's overall water resources portfolio through effective planning, sustainability measures and treatment. The focus is on transforming wastewater into tap water to minimize overall demand for freshwater or municipally treated water to ensure that the longer-term operation of semiconductor industries leads to sustainable growth in Arizona.

water reuse facility

Water Sustainability and Reuse Through a Demonstration Facility

GCWT’s water reuse demonstration and research facility is being established at Macro Technology Works in Tempe, a semiconductor fabrication facility, to treat its wastewater. The demonstration research facility will treat the semiconductor industry’s wastewater, specifically its fabrication wastewater, to achieve tap water quality. The objective of this demonstration facility is to promote water reuse and water recycling within the plant. This facility also provides an example for other fabrications in treating their wastewater with slight modifications based on the feedwater quality, quantity and treatment needs. 

Heat Management in Atmospheric Water Extraction for the Air Refinery

We are evaluating system-level heat management opportunities for atmospheric water extraction, particularly in the production of hydrogen and liquid hydrocarbon fuels from water and carbon dioxide. Arizona, with its vast solar resources, is uniquely positioned to use those resources, particularly in the production of clean hydrogen and synthetic hydrocarbons. Such endeavors would greatly benefit the state's economy. However, every industry requires feedstocks and resources, and in the case of clean hydrogen production, water is a primary need. Unfortunately, surface and groundwater sources are stressed, particularly in solar-rich desert regions with high temperatures and low humidity, necessitating thoughtful management of these vital resources. Considering this context, atmospheric water extraction could emerge as a game-changer. 

Development of Atmospheric Water Harvesting Hydrogels for Solar Panel Cooling and Atmospheric Water Capture

We are developing novel atmospheric water harvesting hydrogels for improving solar panel photovoltaic conversion efficiency. A hygroscopic and hydrophilic polymeric gel composite are being synthesized and coupled with solar panels for cooling and atmospheric water capture purposes. This research is leveraging a joint project with Mansoura University in Egypt.