American University of Beirut

Enhancing water quality in Lebanon Project Receives the Stakeholder Analysis from USAID

An Initiative led by the Department of Chemistry at AUB

PEER-supported research project developed by the Department of Chemistry at the American University of Beirut (AUB) has been selected by the Center for Development Research at USAID to receive the Stakeholder Analysis (SA)/Stakeholder Engagement Plan (SEP) for technical assistance through RTAC, the Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC). The center serves as a strategic resource to USAID and leverages the scientific expertise of academic researchers to provide timely technical assistance.

The project is in collaboration with UC-Berkeley (USG Partner Prof. David Sedlak) and managed by the National Academy of Sciences at Washington DC with a total budget of $243K.

Dr. Antoine Ghauch, Professor at the Department of Chemistry said “This is a really unique opportunity as full technical support will be provided for free to the PEER PI in order to move forward into technology transfer from University to benefit society of research discoveries”.

The aim of this SA/SEP award is to set the research team up for success in translating future research outputs into development impact.

“Since 2012 I have been working on two successive PEER projects funded by USAID and managed by the National Academies. Both projects have Water Treatment component and Micro-Pollutants detection and quantification using innovative techniques.” Dr. Ghauch added.

The project built strong knowledge in the treatment of industrial effluents mainly pharmaceutical effluents using advanced oxidation technologies and demonstrated its effectiveness on bench scale.

“We were able to partner with a local pharma company to treat some of its effluents. We succeeded in implementing our technology by showing complete degradation of the pharmaceutical residues making the post treatment process easier and even more safe for the biological treatment thereafter after the effluent reaches the municipal waste water treatment plant” said Dr. Ghauch.
“The USAID proposal will play a vital role in approaching stakeholders through a very well-established project taking into account socio-economic and political parameters not always easy to afford especially in the Lebanese context where controls on the quality of effluents of all industries in the country are not done periodically” Dr. Ghauch added.

Through the Research and Technical Assistance Center (RTAC), the Center for Development Research (CDR) within the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID aims to support higher education-based partners in their efforts to translate their research evidence, innovations, or other project outputs into development impact.

Since 2012, the Water Chemistry laboratory headed by Prof. Antoine Ghauch got engaged, thanks to two USAID-funded PEER awards [Project 1-84 (2012-2015) and project 5-18 (2016-2020)], in the development of customized solutions for the treatment of industrial effluents based on the use of innovative and cost-effective advanced oxidation processes.
The technology using strong persulfate oxidant showed its high performance upon different activation methods (thermal, chemical and by photolysis) in degrading organic contaminants and got validated on real industrial effluents. It was also communicated through more than 18 papers published since 2012 in peer-reviewed high impact international scientific journals such as chemical engineering journal (IF 8.533) and received a cumulative citation numbers exceeding 1650 times as of today.
A Pharmaceutical company expressed its readiness to use such a technology allowing the treatment of as-collected effluents from the reactors dedicated to drugs formulation and synthesis.

“In Lebanon, there is unfortunately a trend to always favor imported technologies rather than locally developed devices. The role of RTAC is to help reverse this trend by convincing and letting industrialists accept innovative solutions provided by local researchers”. Explained Dr. Ghauch.

According to Dr. Ghauch “this project will empower public-private partnership and will reduce distances between Universities and Industries and between Universities and Policy makers to demonstrate how complementary they should be. It will create jobs in the future and contribute to economic growth since the solution proposed to treat industrial effluents will be provided locally through customized reactors that will be designed and produced by Lebanese companies recruiting enthusiastic new graduates”

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