Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
Low impact development such as biofilters are increasing used to manage stormwater in urban areas—a strategy that has potential not only to minimize water resource contamination but also to alleviate water scarcity in urban areas. However, traditional biofilters do not remove most contaminants. Addition of adsorbents to biofilter media can improve biofilter performance in short term, but it has been found to be ineffective in long term due to exhaustion of attachment sites on the adsorbents. Aging of biofilter media during typical weather conditions and complexities of stormwater matrix further make it challenging to design a biofilter that can consistently remove contaminants. The overarching goal of our research is to regenerate adsorption capacity of biofilter media in situ so that biofilter can become a viable technology to achieving water sustainability in water-stressed areas. We study the fundamental processes that affect contaminant removal in subsurface soil and apply this knowledge to engineer biofilters. In this seminar, I will present how a typical weather condition can alter hydrological and geochemical processes in subsurface environment and contribute to water quality impairment. I will demonstrate how the knowledge of subsurface processes can help engineer the natural systems to remove contaminants from stormwater. At the end, I will highlight our ongoing studies to increase biofilter lifetime via regeneration of adsorption capacity of biofilter media.