Subsurface Biofilm Barriers can be used to manipulate the hydraulic conductivity (permeability) of subsurface formations enabling us to decrease or direct the flow of groundwater. Subsurface biofilm barriers are also being developed for increased storage security during geologic carbon sequestration.
By improving our ability to transport bacteria and nutrients in the subsurface and designing biofilm barriers to be reactive (e.g. contaminant degrading) or non-reactive (simply for hydraulic control) we are intending to improve existing subsurface bioremediation technologies.
We are investigating the transformation of nitroaromatics (e.g. the explosive TNT - 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene), chlorinated aliphatic compounds (e.g. trichloroethylene - TCE and carbon tetrachloride - CT), heavy metals (e.g. chromate and dichromate), and radionuclides (e.g. uranium and strontium). The influence of natural organic matter, minerals, and co-contaminants is of specific interest to my research as well as the establishment of biogeochemical conditions (pH, redox potential, oxygen concentration, etc.) ideal for the safe removal of these contaminants from contaminated groundwater or immobilization in contaminated soils.
Lastly, the development of algae based technologies for liquid transportation fuel and other high value product generation is being investigated.