Shane Ardo is working on special plastic membranes and dyes to enable bottles to desalinate seawater. Steve Zylius / UCI

Shane Ardo, UCI assistant professor of chemistry, is among 84 scientists from across the nation to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program. The effort, now in its ninth year, is designed to bolster the country’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many do their most formative work. Under the program, Ardo will be awarded at least $150,000 per year for five years to develop technologies that can sustainably and inexpensively desalinate seawater for both personal consumption and agriculture. He is exploring the possibility of creating plastic containers that, with a little sun power, could accomplish this. If successful, the technique may help solve water scarcity problems for nearly a billion people worldwide.