Worldwide problems associated with the lack of clean, fresh water are well-known: 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion have little or no sanitation. In addition, water is a scarce resource, and for many countries supplies already fall short of demand. With the pressures of climate change and population growth, water will become even scarcer, especially in developing regions. As consequence, water treatment and purification are undoubtedly amongst the most important topics in the environmental technologies. Membrane processes, nanosized materials and the combination from both offer a wide range of possibilities and ways for water treatment by means of filtration and catalytic processes.
At European level, a number of relevant research activities concerning the application of nanotechnology for water treatment are funded by the European Commission in the scope of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). The Nano4water cluster was initiated to facilitate dissemination and information exchange and to increase the visibility of these projects.
The Nano4water cluster started with five collaborative projects co-funded by the Research DG of the EC following a Joint Call on nanotechnologies for water treatment (FP7-ENV-NMP-2008-2), namely CleanWater, MONACAT, Nametech, NewED and WATERMIM. The common aim of all these projects was supporting research and technological development in the field of water treatment by applying nanotechnology to promising separation, purification and detoxification technologies. Almost immediately two projects with the same aim joined the Nano4water cluster: MEMBAQ, a project from an earlier NMP call with the topic “Using nature as model for new nanotechnology-based processes, and NATIOMEM, a project from the FP7-NMP-2009-2.6-1 call on "Novel membranes for water technologies".
In 2012, the Nano4water cluster was expanded to 17 projects dealing with nano approaches to water treatment. Five of these projects are co-funded by the EC following the FP7-NMP.2011.1.2-3 call on active nanomembranes, -filters and -adsorbents for efficient water treatment with stable or regenerable low-fouling surfaces. These projects are CERAMPOL, Nanopur, CeraWater, NanoSelect and LbLBRANE. Four other projects are running NMP projects: BacWire and MultiPlat result from the call on "Converging sciences and technologies”, BioNexGen from "Novel membranes for water technologies" and SurFunCell from the call on "Nanostructured polymer-matrix composites". Finally, also ChemWater was added to the cluster. This project is a coordination activity resulting from the FP7-NMP-2010-CSA-4 call.
From here on, the Nano4water cluster will further grow in time. At the moment, the participation of several new projects dealing with water treatment and nanotechnology is taken into consideration.