Anthropogenic soil and water contamination can be caused by industrial activity, agricultural chemicals or improper waste disposal. Pollutants like hydrocarbons, pesticides and heavy metals can cause a multitude of environmental and health problems. The recognition that these issues are related to the deterioration in air, water and soil quality has put the field of environmental remediation in the forefront of applied sciences. Here, in the environmental and soil chemistry lab, we are interested in the fate and transformation of pollutants in the environment and in the development of comprehensive and sustainable remediation solutions. The research therefore is focused on coupling adsorption strategies with biogeochemical degradation techniques. Specifically, our interest lies in chemical and biological processes at the water/soil interface; colloidal interactions with organic macromolecules such as polymers and enzymes; applying clay minerals and metal oxides as catalytic surfaces in chemical and biological remediation; and in situ remediation of pollutants in soil and water systems.
The research and expertise of the lab extend over several complementary and interdisciplinary areas:
- Environmental soil and water chemistry: Fate and behavior of pollutants in the environment: primarily adsorption, desorption and degradation processes of molecules on inorganic and organic surfaces and with biological constituents.
- Developments of soil and water remediation techniques: Utilizing knowledge of pollutant behavior in the environment to develop remediation strategies while tackling the applicability issues involved. Mainly coupling adsorption techniques with biological and chemical degradation to create feasible and comprehensive remediation solutions.
- Analytical chemistry: Applying a broad spectrum of characterization tools to understand colloid particles and their underlying chemical interactions. Among the tools we use are SEM, TEM and confocal microscopy; X-ray diffraction, IR, UV, and fluorescence spectroscopy; contact angle, surface area and zeta potential measurements.