Elimelech awarded the Connecticut Medal of Technology for pioneering work

Recognized for his work in energy-efficient, sustainable membrane-based technologies for desalination, and management of brines and industrial wastewaters.
Menachem Elimelech

Menachem Elimelech

Menachem Elimelech, the Sterling Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale, has been awarded the Connecticut Medal of Technology, the state’s highest honor for technological achievement.

The award was announced by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE).

Elimelech, who is on the faculty of the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science, was recognized for his pioneering developments of energy-efficient, sustainable membrane-based technologies for desalination, and the management of brines and industrial wastewaters.

He is a leading international authority who has transformed the field of environmental engineering, particularly in these areas.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said Elimelech’s work illustrates the state’s role as a global technology leader. “Dr. Elimelech’s pioneering research has not only enriched the academic community’s understanding of a highly complex topic, but also led to innovative approaches to addressing critical environmental issues and spawned the growth of an industry,” he said. 

The honor also reflects both Elimelech’s broadly international scientific reputation as well as his commitment to the betterment of the world, said Yale Engineering Dean Jeffrey Brock.

Yale Engineering has long made finding solutions to major environmental challenges a key part of its mission,” Brock said. “Professor Elimelech’s work is a critical step toward ensuring that people across the globe will have access to clean drinking water and to understanding how to make sure that access endures.”

Elimelech’s research focuses on various membrane-related processes for water desalination, brine management, and other applications.

His innovative work on forward osmosis, which uses membranes to filter water, has profoundly impacted the desalination and water industry. He was a co-founder of Oasys Water, a company that commercialized the ammonia-carbon dioxide forward osmosis desalination technology. More than 13 new forward osmosis start-up companies have been formed following his pioneering research.

In a recent breakthrough, Elimelech showed that a model used for more than 50 years to describe water transport in reverse osmosis membranes is fundamentally flawed. He proposed an alternative mechanism and theory, a finding has direct implications for the design of high-performance desalination membranes.

Elimelech earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1989. In his first appointment, Elimelech served as professor and vice chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA. He joined Yale in 1998 as director and founder of the university’s Environmental Engineering Program as well as Llewellyn West Jones Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. In 2005, he was named Roberto C. Goizueta Professor and became chair of Yale’s Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department.

In 2021, he was appointed Sterling Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, the university’s highest academic rank. He was the first engineering professor at Yale to earn this distinction.

His major awards and honors include the International Water Association (IWA) Membrane Technology Award (2023); Honorary Doctorate, Ben-Gurion University, Israel (2023); Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (2023); Eni Prize for “Protection of the Environment” — considered by many the Nobel Prize in the energy/environment sector — (2015); The Simon W. Freese Environmental Engineering Award and Lecture, American Society of Civil Engineers (2011); The American Institute of Chemical Engineers Lawrence K. Cecil Award in Environmental Chemical Engineering (2008); and The Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize, National Water Research Institute (2005).

Elimelech is an elected member of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (2022); the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (2021); the Chinese Academy of Engineering (2017); the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (2007); and the United States National Academy of Engineering (2006).

In addition to Elimelech, the state also awarded the Medal of Technology to ARKA Group, in honor of the company’s 60 years of work in optics and other technologies.

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Media Contact

Michael Greenwood: michael.greenwood@yale.edu, 203-737-5151