many parts of the country, hard water causes problems for consumers
and businesses. A new solution for softening hard water may be
developed as a result of Procter & Gamble’s donation of more
than 35 patents and pending patents to the University.
Hard water, which contains
high levels of dissolved calcium or magnesium, can be linked to
problems ranging from clogged plumbing to kidney stones. Enhanced
Water Softening Technology, as P&G’s patents are collectively
called, creates an inexpensive and recyclable water-softening agent
that quickly and efficiently binds calcium ions.
Along with the patents, P&G has
donated all associated intellectual property. As the sole owner of the
technology, UNC-CH will benefit from future revenues after the
technology is further developed, tested and commercialized.
With further development, it is
estimated that the market potential of the technology could result in
revenue upward of $100 million annually.
"We are delighted that Procter
& Gamble chose Carolina to develop this technology," said
Chancellor James Moeser. "Our School of Public Health is a
national leader in drinking water research. This work fits its
mission, and Carolina’s public service mission, to a tee. The
potential benefits for treating municipal drinking water and water for
industrial use are enormous."
P&G’s consultants identified
Carolina as the university that is best qualified to further develop
the technology, due to the School of Public Health’s national
prominence. Dr. Philip Singer, a professor of environmental sciences
and engineering in the school, will lead the research effort.
"We’re excited that UNC-Chapel
Hill will continue to develop and test this significant technology,
and that the University will benefit both financially and academically
from this donation," said P&G Chief Technology Officer Gil
Cloyd. "Best of all, we’ll get to see this promising science
furthered to improve peoples’ lives — even if it will no longer be
in P&G hands, given that our strategic interests lie
The gift of technology is the eighth in
a series of P&G technology donations to leading universities and
Hard water makes washing more difficult
by decreasing the amount of lather or suds. It also leaves deposits in
pipes and boilers and on heat transfer surfaces, causing problems for
industry. In addition to observing white, flaky buildup on
showerheads, faucets and pots and pans, homeowners will note that hard
water causes problems for water heaters, clothes washers and
dishwashers, shortening appliance life and adding to energy costs.
The technology works by introducing
specially treated calcium carbonate crystals into the water supply.
The crystals attract and capture calcium ions, which are then filtered
out. The precipitate can then be recycled and used multiple times.
The technology is simpler and less
costly than current processes. In addition to savings for the water
treatment industry, Enhanced Water Softening Technology may be
beneficial for developing nations since it uses inexpensive and
recyclable materials, is more efficient than other methods and
produces less sludge for disposal.
The School of Public Health’s
Drinking Water Research Center, which will work with the technology,
draws on departmental researchers as well as those with expertise in
chemistry, economics, engineering, epidemiology, microbiology, risk
assessment and water policy to address a multitude of drinking water
"We will examine the suitability
of Enhanced Water Softening Technology for its applicability to
municipal drinking water and industrial process water," Singer
said. "I am pleased that Procter & Gamble has chosen us to
carry on this exciting research and I look forward to taking their
research to the next level."
P&G markets 300 brands to nearly 5
billion consumers in 140 countries. The company invests nearly $2
billion a year to develop and improve its products
P&G holds approximately 27,000
global patents, yet commercializes less then 10 percent of them.
P&G’s Global Licensing Organization is promoting the full
development and use of the company’s innovations. This includes
selling, licensing and, in select cases, donating P&G’s
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