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Taehee Lee applies a blower to the desert dirt.

Taehee Lee, a materials science and engineering doctoral student, uses a bower to create a 25 mph wind to measure generated dust concentrations where dust suppressants -- including a new UA technology -- were applied two weeks before. (Photo: Minkyu Kim)

Startup Licenses UA-Engineered Solutions to Control Dust in a Dry World

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Startup Licenses UA-Engineered Solutions to Control Dust in a Dry World

June 17, 2019
Using technology developed by a UA engineer, startup Clean Earth Tech plans to provide a novel solution to a common problem in arid climates: air pollution caused by dry air and blowing dust.

People living in dry climates worldwide experience the problems wrought by dry air and blowing dust, which affects everything from respiratory health to cars and other machinery. The general practice for controlling dust in areas like mines and construction sites is to spray the ground with water. While this method does keep dust levels down, sites require constant reapplication, especially in arid climates like Arizona.  

To address the problem, researchers at the College of Engineering have developed an environmentally safe biocompatible polymer blend that, when added to water used for dust control, keeps the ground damp for more than two months, even when exposed to the open desert air. Through Tech Launch Arizona, the UA office that commercializes inventions stemming from research, the university provided funding to advance the invention, protected the intellectual property and licensed it to startup Clean Earth Tech to bring it to the marketplace.  

"Most of my work has been about finding new things and contributing to science,” said inventor Minkyu Kim, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering. “I’m very excited to know that my work is benefiting all of society, not just academia.”