Project  Faculty Mentors Description Support
Multi-hazard Performance Assessment of Inter-dependent Lifeline Infrastructure Systems on Oregon Coast Andre Barbosa, associate professor of structural engineering; Dan Cox, professor of coastal and ocean engineering The aim of this project is to better understand the potential impact of a large tsunamigenic event emanating from the Cascadia Subduction Zone on the performance of infrastructure systems along the Oregon Coast. Particularly, this project will focus on transportation, water, power, and healthcare infrastructure. In this context, damage to infrastructure systems will be evaluated considering ground shaking and tsunami flooding which will be used to inform functionality and restoration modeling. Additionally, the effects of interdependence between infrastructure systems on the functionality and restoration of infrastructure will also be investigated. The results of this study would help identify mitigation and response strategies that can improve the infrastructure performance. Cascadia Lifelines Program

Network Analysis for Optimal Equipment Placement to Repair Roadways and Water Infrastructure After Disasters

Joseph Louis, assistant professor of construction engineering The immediate aftermath of natural disasters involves considerable logistical challenges in repairing damaged roadway and water infrastructure networks to aid with rehabilitation efforts. This research will perform network analysis of these critical infrastructure networks to determine the optimal placement of debris removal and rehabilitation equipment for emergency preparedness. Further simulations of natural disaster will be carried out to assess the performance of various placement strategies in aiding the repair of infrastructure networks. Cascadia Lifelines Program
Nutrients Recovery from Agricultural Waste using Electrically Driven Membrane Process Xue Jin, assistant professor of environmental engineering The eutrophication of surface waters has become a global problem. The nutrients loading from agricultural runoff containing fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste is a major driver. In this project, we will develop, test, and study a novel membrane separation system for the removal and recovery of dominant nitrogen and phosphorus species present in agricultural waste. Clean Water Initiative
Characterization of Nanoparticle/chemical Interactions in Environmentally Relevant Waters Stacey Harper, associate professor of environmental engineering
When nanoparticles (NPs) are released into the environment, they will associate with other substances and these interactions could alter environmental fate and bioavailability of both the NPs and the associated substances. The proposed studies aim to investigate the impacts of NP and chemical interactions, in terms of changes in size, surface charge, hydrophobicity, ion release, and redox potential in both natural and laboratory waters. The data from these studies will be used to address questions of the biological consequences of NP/chemical interactions in mixed contaminant scenarios. Clean Water Initiative
Paper-based Sensor for the Detection of Arsenic in Agricultural Water Sources  Elain Fu, assistant professor of bioengineering
We are developing a paper-based device for the colorimetric detection of arsenic in water. The student would be involved in test design, fabrication, and characterization (using mock fluids and eventually diluted arsenic water standards). Clean Water Initiative
Catalytic Degradation of Dyes in Wastewater Konstantinos A. Goulas, assistant professor of chemical engineering
Wastewater contaminated with azo dyes poses a unique challenge in decontamination, as these dyes tend to be toxic to the bacteria used in biological remediation of wastewater. This challenge can be overcome by a catalytic degradation step prior to the introduction of wastewater into the bioreactor. In this project, a student will use heterogeneous catalysts to degrade model azo dyes, such as methyl orange, and investigate the effects of substrate structure, catalyst support and UV irradiation on the degradation rate of the dye. More specifically, we plan to investigate Pd and PdCu catalysts supported on a UV-active support (TiO2) and a UV-inactive support, SiO2. The student will measure the decomposition rate in a catalytic batch reactor under a range of conditions using UV-Vis spectrophotometry and also identify the decomposition products using GC/MS. The successful completion of this project will result in enhanced understanding of the mechanisms of azo dye degradation in aquatic solutions. Clean Water Initiative
Turning Wastewater Treatment Materials into High-Energy-Density Battery Anodes Zhenxing Feng, assistant professor of chemical engineering
This project focuses on the economic use of porous carbon materials first for wastewater treatment and then as lithium-ion battery anodes.  We will produce functionalized porous carbon from woods, leaves and fish scales, which are quite abundant in Oregon, then utilize them to physically and chemically absorb toxic metal cations (e.g., Cr, Mo). The cation-containing carbon will be separated and subsequently used as the lithium-ion battery anode, which can exhibit much higher energy density than commercial battery. Our preliminary results have shown the feasibility of this environmental benign process. Clean Water Initiative
Standard Method to Assess Installed Septic System Performance Christine Kelly, professor of bioengineering
There is a lack of statistically significant data on installed, residential septic performance. We will develop a standard method to sample water below septic drain fields to assess system performance, and validate the method by installing a variety of sampling designs and measuring nitrogen, phosphorous, fecal coliforms and BOD with time. To begin to fill this knowledge gap, this project consists of working with companies who install and maintain septic systems to develop a standard method to sample water below septic drain fields to assess system performance. We will validate the method by installing a variety of sampling designs and measuring nitrogen, phosphorous, fecal coliforms and BOD with time. During this process, we will accompany vendors as they install and maintain septic systems to ensure the variety of existing designs are considered. The project will involve fieldwork and laboratory work to analyze water samples for contaminants. Clean Water Initiative
Examining the Role of Natural Organic Matter in Controlling the Environmental Fate and Behavior of Metals and Engineered Nanoparticles in Aquatic Systems Jeff Nason, associate professor of environmental engineering Natural organic matter (NOM) is a term used to describe a complex mixture of macromolecules present in natural systems.  These compounds, formed through the decay of plant matter or produced by microorganisms, are extremely important in many aspects of water quality control.  This project will focus on the collection and characterization of NOM from different sources as well as examinations of its interactions (e.g., chemical complexation, adsorption) with contaminants of interest including heavy metals and engineered nanoparticles. Clean Water Initiative
Encapsulation on Pure Cultures of Bacteria and Slow Release Substrates to Promote the Passive In-situ Treatment of Groundwater Contaminated with Emerging Contaminants  Lewis SempriniDistinguished Professor of environmental engineering, director, Clean and Sustainable Water Technology Initiative The research involves the development of sustainable bioremediation methods for the in-situ treatment of contaminated groundwater. The student will conduct research that involves the encapsulation of pure cultures of bacteria in hydrogels along with slow release substrates to promote the passive aerobic cometabolism of emerging contaminants, such as 1,4-dioxane, in groundwater.  The research will involve testing the performance of the hydrogels in microcosms that consist of contaminated groundwater and sediments.  Clean Water Initiative
Antibiotic Resistance in Wastewater Treatment Facilities Across Oregon Tala Navab-Daneshmand, assistant professor of environmental engineering In this project we aim to identify the impact of diverse Oregon climate and different treatment processes on prevalence and resistance phenotype of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in wastewater influent, secondary, effluent, and biosolids. Clean Water Initiative
Electrochemical Removal of Groundwater Contaminants Kelsey A Stoerzinger, assistant professor of chemical engineering
The perturbation of the nitrogen cycle via the use of fertilizers and fossil-fuel combustion has resulted in alarmingly increased levels of nitrate in groundwater and coastal areas, with global- and human-health threatening consequences. Denitrification is a growing area of energy consumption—for example traditional ammonium removal is among the most energy-intensive steps in wastewater processing, in addition to requiring notable chemical inputs. Natural denitrification is performed by microbial communities, and electrocatalytic nitrate reduction parallels a biological approach in the sense that enzymes are also redox catalysts, but diverges regarding the source of energy driving the nitrate reduction, which can be provided as heat, light, or electrical energy. This project will study the adsorption of nitrate on common geological minerals and catalysts, as well as the use of catalysts to reduce nitrate (NO3−) to species such as dinitrogen gas (N2) for water treatment processes. Clean Water Initiative
Clean Water using Algae Sheets  Gregory L. Rorrer, professor of chemical engineering
Agricultural waste waters contain high levels of nitrate and phosphate.  Certain types of algae have a remarkable capacity to take up and store very high levels of nitrate and phosphate.  However, algae are typically not amenable to water reclamation because of their dilute, micro particulate nature.  We developed a process to grow more plantlike algae on flexible sheets so that water can pass over the sheets, be stripped of nitrate and phosphate, and then returned to the environment.  Over time, the algae sheets are replaced in a modular fashion.  We are looking for an intern to help us with the biological, environmental, and engineering aspects of this research. Clean Water Initiative
Plastics to Fuel Technology for Recycling Ocean Plastic Debris Willie E. (Skip) Rochefort , associate professor of chemical engineering We have constructed a small scale reactor to examine turning ocean plastic debris into a fuel (probably diesel fuel). We also have on loan a pilot scale commercial system (EcoFuel Technologies) called the PTF200 that uses a proprietary catalyst system and can process 200lbs per day of plastics to fuel. This reactor has yet to be tested with ocean plastic debris. The project will be to use ocean plastics collected by our collaborators in Kodiak, Alaska (NSF funded project to collect ocean plastics) to obtain data on the efficiency of converting ocean plastics to diesel fuel. Clean Water Initiative


Engineering for Bouncing Back