Energy UROP: The Intersection of Research Experience and Real-World Solutions

Published in MIT News by Divesh Rupani, MIT Energy Initiative

Students gain hands-on experience over the summer with MITEI's Energy Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Today, more than 780 million people worldwide are living without access to fresh water. Drinking the contaminated water they can access often leads to health concerns like diarrhea, diseases, or even blindness.

Alexander Mok, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, has been investigating a solution to this problem under the guidance of Rohit Karnik, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. “Today we have reverse osmosis — pure water treatment plants — but the problem is that they are energy intensive and, as a result, very costly,” Mok says.

With this in mind, Mok spent this past summer researching a way to reduce the cost of these treatment plants by using graphene as a filter. “Graphene is just one carbon atom thick … and would bring the energy cost to its theoretical minimum,” he says. The results show that with a few minor adjustments, graphene proves to be a plausible solution for making reverse osmosis more energy efficient.  

Earlier this fall, Mok was one of 42 students presenting their summer research on campus as part of the Energy Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), supported by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI)...

Read the complete MIT News article