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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Effects of Aggressive Leachates on Modified Geosynthetic Clay Liners (GCLs)
    Municipal solid waste incinerator (MSW-I) residues are being co-landfilled in MSW landfills or mono-filled in several states in the U.S. Leachates from the MSW-I ash contain cations at concentrations of a few orders of magnitude higher than typical MSW leachate and can significantly affect the performance of geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs), which are hydraulic barrier systems for preventing contamination of the surrounding groundwater. This project will mechanistically understand how MSW-I ash landfill leachate affects the performance of the second generation GCLs.
  4. Landfill Leachate Pretreatment before Discharge to Sewer: Metal Recovery and Nitrogen Removal
    Most landfills discharge leachate to municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). WWTP managers are becoming reluctant to accept landfill leachate since the leachate is usually rich in heavy metals, which are toxic to the activated sludge in the WWTP; and nitrogen, which may cause discharge violation. The objective of this project is to evaluate a potentially inexpensive and sustainable onsite leachate pretreatment method for removing and recovering the metals and for making nitrogen easier to be removed in the WWTP.
  5. Synergistic Reductive Dechlorination of 1,1,1-Trichloroethane and Trichloroethene and Aerobic Biodegradation of 1,4-Dioxane
    This research project aims at improving the ability to treat mixed contaminants of concern in groundwater. 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), trichloroethene (TCE), and 1,4-dixoane are studied in this project since they commonly co-exist in groundwater. The overall objective of this project is to demonstrate proof-of-concept of a novel synergistic platform and to explore strategies to optimize the synergy.