Sustainable Environment

Focus Area 1: Waste Management and Recycling

  • Waste management
  • Landfilling
  • Resource recovery
  • Pollutant transport
  • Bio-remediation

Wastewater and solid waste are potential sources of energy and metals. We focus on pollution control and resource recovery in natural and engineered systems using physicochemical and biological methods. Chemical and biological principles are incorporated into the engineering applications.

Focus Area 2: Water Resources

  • Surface water
  • Subsurface water
  • Coastal hydrodynamics
  • Land-use change
  • Water treatment

Water resources are natural resources of water that are potentially useful. We focus on surface water and groundwater treatment and management to meet the human demand. We also study the hydrodynamic processes in the coastal zone and the impact of land-use change on water resources.


CEE Environmental Engineering Laboratory

The CEE Environmental Engineering Laboratory is equipped to carry out fundamental and applied research on water treatment, landfilling, resource recovery, and bioremediation. Key equipment includes:

  • A gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) system (Hewlett Packard 5890/5971)
  • An ion chromatography (IC) systems (Dionex Aquion)
  • A gas chromatography (GC) system (SRI 8610C)
  • A NanoDrop™ OneC Microvolume UV-Vis Spectrophotometer (Thermo Scientific)
  • A UV-Vis spectrophotometer (Agilent Technologies Cary 60)

AME Environmental Laboratory

The AME Environmental Laboratory is equipped to carry out fundamental and applied research on water treatment, pollutant transport, and land-use change. Key equipment includes:

  • A microwave plasma-atomic emission system (Agilent Technologies 4100 MPAES)
  • An ion chromatography (IC) systems (Dionex Aquion)
  • A high-performance liquid chromatography system (ESA HPLC with two detectors: Dionex Coulochem III electrochemical detector and Dionex 528 UV-VIS detector)
  • A total organic carbon (TOC) analyzer (Phoenix 8000 UV-Persulfate TOC Analyzer)

Example Projects

  1. Enhancing Bioremediation of Groundwater Co-Contaminated by Chlorinated Volatile Organic Compounds and 1,4-Dioxane Using Novel Macrocyclic Materials
    The project addresses a common challenge in the remediation of groundwater contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs) and 1,4-dioxane. Many CVOCs and 1,4-dioxane are known or potential human carcinogens and on the Substance Priority List (SPL) for Superfund sites. This project proposes the following combined remediation approach. First, an innovative macrocyclic material approach selectively adsorbs CVOCs and promotes the growth of dechlorinating biofilm on the material surface to anaerobically biodegrade CVOCs. After the CVOCs treatment, another type of innovative macrocyclic material sustains biofilms to aerobically metabolize 1,4-dioxane.
  2. Selenium Recovery from Wastewater Based on Exclusively Extracellular Selenium Nanoparticles Production
    Selenium (Se) is critical element to the US economy and national security. It is also a contaminant in wastewater that must be removed to meet strict discharge limits to the environment. Bacteria have been used previously to remove Se from wastewater by converting dissolved Se to Se nanoparticles that can be separated from the water. However, this process is not efficient for Se recovery because the Se nanoparticles are typically inside the microbial cells and thus difficult to recover. The goal of this project is to enable both Se removal and recovery from wastewater using novel biocathode reactors. In these systems, specific bacteria grow on electrodes and produce Se nanoparticles outside microbial cells for efficient Se recovery.
  3. Compounding floods in Pensacola and Perdido Bay under climate change
    This project aims to study future floods in the Pensacola and Perdido Bay area under climate change. Compounding rain-tide scenarios will be modeled using frequency analyses and hydrodynamic models to identify what areas and infrastructure will be at risk of flooding in the future. A variety of precipitation change and sea level rise scenarios will be studied and vulnerable areas to each scenario will be mapped. The project will also derive the intensity, duration and frequency of rainstorm events under future climate forecasts.
  4. Prediction and Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms in Biscayne Bay using Advanced Numerical Methods
    Excess nutrient export from the landscape to coastal ecosystems is a crucial socio-ecological problem and results from high population centers and agricultural production. Despite major efforts in coastal areas to reduce landscape nutrient loading, estuaries around the world continue to experience perturbations such as harmful algal blooms (HABs). The primary objective of this project is to develop an online integrated map-viewer platform that will serve as a Machine Learning tool for HAB Prediction (MtHAB). The tool will detect relationships between chlorophyll-a concentration (an indicator of algal blooms) and watershed-scale variables such as land use and nutrient loading, and determine the most cost-effective set of BMPs to prevent HAB.
  5. Development of a Statewide Decision Support Tool to Control Nutrients in Urban Communities
    The goal of this project is to develop a statewide decision support tool for siting and selection of BMPs to help urban communities control nutrients in their watersheds. The developed tool will offer users to select optimal BMPs based on their associated costs and benefits. The comprehensive tool includes hydrologic and water quality treatment in a variety of BMPs, cost assessment and automatic optimization of BMPs at different scales based on nutrient reduction goals. The decision support tool will allow integration of user-preferred hydrologic model. The project also includes training workshops for engineers, scientists, stormwater managers, and general public.
  6. Land-Use Changes in Response to Climate Change: A Vulnerability Analysis
    This project focuses on the application of vulnerability analysis, an important and innovative method to contrast and evaluate land-use changes and their impacts in response to climate change. The umbrella of vulnerability serves to integrate the different research themes related to land-use changes: water yield, soil, water, and air quality, and social and economic influences on the agricultural system. The land-use change options that decrease the vulnerability of the agricultural system the most and that have the greatest potential of acceptance will be identified and recommended to policy- and decision-makers.