Let's Solve Water

Xylem logo

Xylem is a leading water technology company based in the U.S. that is committed to "solving water" by creating innovative and smart technology solutions to meet the world's water, wastewater and energy needs. Their technologies enable customers worldwide to transport, treat, test, and efficiently use water in public utility, residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial settings. The company does business in more than 150 countries and has revenues of nearly $5 billion.

In 2016, Xylem became J-WAFS’ first Research Affiliate. As a Research Affiliate, Xylem funds sponsored research projects at MIT and provides other support for water sector research and innovation across the Institute, including support of:

MIT students have also benefitted from individual mentoring relationships with members of the Xylem executive team.

As a J-WAFS Research Affiliate, Xylem has sponsored the development of a novel pump that uses adaptive hydraulics for improved pump efficiency, led by Alex Slocum ’82, SM ’83, PhD ’85, the Walter M. May and A. Hazel May Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Hilary Johnson SM ’18, PhD ’22, a 2021–2022 J-WAFS Fellow.

Centrifugal pumps, which consume approximately 6% of electricity in the United States annually, rotate an impeller which takes water in and then rapidly pushes it out using centrifugal force. Water flow rates in most applications are variable. While larger centrifugal pumps are needed to accommodate periods of higher flow, these pumps are underutilized during times of lower demand, leading to lower efficiency and wasted energy use. Slocum and Johnson have developed a pump which is able to maximize efficiency during operation by matching its volume to the varying volume of flow needed by the application.

The team published a paper, Data Analytics and Pump Control in a Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Xylem Inc. invited Johnson to spend an extended time at their manufacturing facility in Sweden to learn about the mechanics of pumps.

"Our research affiliation with MIT, through JWAFS, shows the power of building a world-class innovation ecosystem. We’re bringing together some of the most creative minds in water today, and leveraging our collective expertise, cutting-edge facilities and cultures of innovation to develop breakthrough approaches. Together, we’re solving urgent water and climate challenges to help shape the future of water – and make communities more sustainable for decades to come.”

—Patrick Decker, CEO, Xylem

Headshot of Patrick Decker