Carnegie Mellon University’s Environmental Engineering Lab

In Carnegie Mellon University’s environmental
engineering lab, students and faculty work together to tackle the complex challenge of
creating a cleaner, more energy-efficient world. With cutting-edge research that sits at the
intersection of water quality and climate change, researchers are focused on critical
issues that impact the future of our planet. Our researchers are improving technologies
for water treatment. In improving our technologies for water treatment
and in improving decisions we make upstream of that treatment. So, should we allow a certain contaminant
to enter the water? Should we allow a new user to come in and
use a large amount of water? How should we manage the water that agriculture
is taking and energy is taking versus what we are taking in our households? We are developing new remediation technology. We work on a variety of things in my research
group. Currently we focus on what is called environmental
nanotechnology. One component is to leverage the unique properties
of nanomaterials to develop new technologies for remediation of, say, ground water or water
treatment. And then the other aspect of what we’re
doing has to do with understanding the implications of nanomaterials in the environment. Right now there’s many nano-enabled products
that are entering the marketplace. And people and the government want to know
whether these nanomaterials (which are novel materials) are going to cause any problems
in the environment. And to really understand properly the impacts
and the fate of the material, you have to study them within a complex system. Improving water quality and water resources. In some areas there won’t be enough water,
available fresh water, for new power production. We are investigating water sources such as
treated municipal waste water, drainage from abandoned mines, or saltier ground waters
that haven’t been looked to as a primary source of cooling water for power production. Another area that we’ve investigated is
the use of water, impacts of water, in geological storage of carbon dioxide. This is a technology under development to
keep CO2 out of the atmosphere, to inject it deep in the ground. When we do that, the CO2 will mix with native
ground waters that will move around and interact with rocks and potentially impact ground water
resources. The Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering has recently begun to transform and modernize the environmental engineering
lab, a space that hasn’t been updated in 25 years. This renovation is an investment in future
water quality pioneers and water management leaders. My research is lab-intensive and also data
analytic-intensive. So that means I have to switch around to different
instruments, go back to my lab bench space, and then go to my desk pretty much every day. And I think with this new lab, it has a new
workflow: it’s really opened up and really connected. This new renovated lab, I think it would really
help us to collaborate and work together. This new opportunity with this lab space is
going to really help us out, so I want to take that money and really show that you invested
in our future and also CMU’s future.

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