Dame Deidre Hutton, Cranfield University Chancellor, officially opened a leading water science building at the university last week.
The facility has already played a key part in the university’s efforts to detect COVID-19 rates through wastewater.
Cranfield University scientists created low-cost sensors in the facility and monitored the levels of COVID-19 in wastewater from schools and other sites.
The building has been named after the university’s first director of water sciences, George Solt, who passed away earlier this year.
The facility contains a breakthrough innovation hub and laboratories devoted to the development of advanced sensors and point-of-use treatment technologies.
It was funded by the government through Cranfield University and the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).
Previously, a national research facility for water and wastewater treatment was opened on the campus in Summer 2019, also partly funded by UKCRIC. In the same year, the government provided £446m to fund water infrastructure research at Cranfield.
Professor Paul Jeffrey, director of water at Cranfield University, said: “This facility, together with the National Research Facility for Water and Wastewater Treatment, is already playing a key role in advancing knowledge in sustainable water management and helping the national efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19.
“We are delighted to be playing our part in the work that UKCRIC is doing to secure and enhance the nation’s infrastructure and resilience.”
Cranfield University is a founding member of Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP).
This non-profit organisation has provided access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene practices for 20 million people, including in Bangladesh and Kenya.
The university was also awarded in 2015 the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its education and research on safe water and sanitation for the world’s poorest communities.
The borough’s other local higher education provider, the University of Bedfordshire, has also been at the forefront of water research.
In 2017, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, researchers there developed an advanced sensor to better detect water pollution in a project to improve the River Lea’s water quality.