"Environment" research area

Mining, Manufacturing & Power Generation

With abundant economically valuable mineral deposits, the state's mining industry is the backbone of northern Minnesota's economy. Across the entire state, but focused in the Twin Cities, numerous large and small manufacturing companies operate in different sectors. This mix of industry organizations, including power companies (like Xcel), face many similar challenges in figuring out how to utilize environmental remediation technology and innovative solutions to benefit their business model. The projects below illustrate the breadth of application that much of this research has across different industry sectors.

Research Projects

Using Thermophilic Metal-Reducing Bacteria to Enhance Metal Recovery
Awarded January 2022
The Gralnick Lab investigates the advantages of thermophilic microbes in biomining to recover valuable metals from electronic waste. 

Direct Carbon Dioxode Capture for Air Remediation in Minnesota
Awarded December 2021
 The Toan Lab researches the CO2 capture efficacy of various metal based sorbents.

Kinetics of Biofilms for Treatment of Airborne Organic Pollutants
Awarded November 2021
The Wang Lab studies the kinetics of innovative biodegradation systems.

Using Fungus to Remediate "Forever Chemicals" 
Awarded June 2021
Zhang and team exploit fungal pathways to tackle challenging environment contaminants through mycoremediation. 

Selective Biomining Using Bacteria
Awarded June 2021
Gralnick develops an approach to reduce the production of environmentally harmful products during the mining for metals. 

Biological Remediation of Adhesives
Awarded June 2021
Steve Severtson and Jiwei Zhang aim to close the life cycle loop on adhesives with biological remediation. 

Biofiltration of N2O
Awarded June 2021
Satoshi Ishii advances a biofilter for N2O removal from air. 

Microbial Conversion of Plastic Waste
Awarded January 2021
The Xiong Lab improves microbial conversion of plastic waste through a novel biomechanical cotreatment process. 

Can Mining Waste Help Remove Sulfide from Water?
Awarded June 2020
The Penn Lab uses iron mining waste materials to remove sulfide and form stable products that decrease further sulfur related pollution. 

Using Fungi to Decontaminate and Repurpose Wasted Lumber Products
Awarded June 2020
The Zhang Lab examines wood-decomposing fungi to reuse lumber waste treated with hazardous wood preservatives.

Using Native Minnesotan Plants to Remove Heavy Metals from Contaminated Waters
Awarded June 2020
The Sternberg Lab utilizes duckweed to assess the impact of anion species in the biosorption of Copper, Nickel, and Lead.

Metal-Filtering Microbes
Awarded December 2019
Lead investigator Cara Santelli and colleagues conduct lab-based research to more fully understand the mechanisms being used by manganese-oxidizing microbes that effectively filter heavy metals from mining wastewater.

Leveraging Nano-fluids to Improve Carbon-Capture Methods
Awarded June 2019
Sam Toan and team investigate novel-catalyzed and nano-fluid sorbent for carbon capture, utilization, and storage in coal-fired power plant discharged air treatment application.

Understanding How Bacteria Detoxify Harmful, Aromatic Chemicals
Awarded November 2018
The Fixen Lab researches the source of reductant for anaerobic degradation of toxic aromatics. 

Can Algal Growth Prevent Pollution from the Duluth Complex?
Awarded November 2018
The Feinberg team explores strategies to limit microbiological sulfide mineral oxidation in mine waste from Minnesota's Duluth Complex.

Using Nanocarbons to Trap and Remediate Air Pollutants
Awarded November 2018
Ping Wang and his lab construct a system facilitated by nanocarbons to filter and degrade VOCs contaminating the air.

A New Approach to Understanding Plastic-Eating Microbes
Awarded February 2018
Faculty member Brett Barney partnered with Dow Chemical Company to investigate how effective bacteria might be in degrading petroleum-derived plastics.

Chromium Removal From Industrial Stormwater Using Peat
Awarded February 2018
This Seed Grant project, led by Brandy Toner, explores the performance of peat in sequestering chromium from industrial stormwater when used in a filtration system.

Stormwater Biofiltration for Duluth-Based Foundry
Awarded February 2017
Sternberg Lab and ME Elecmetal investigate the removal of contaminants from storm runoff.

Using Biological Oxidation of Sulfide to Protect the Mesabi Iron Range
Awarded December 2015
The Bailey Lab leverages biological sulfur production for sustainable sulfate removal from Minnesota mine waters. 

Using Biological Oxidation of Sulfide to Protect the Mesabi Iron Range
Awarded December 2015
The Feinberg Lab assesses microbial contributions to sulfide mineral oxidation in Cu-Ni ores of the Midcontinent Rift, NE Minnesota.

Engineering Bacteria for Enhanced Bioaccumulation of Toxic Metals 
Awarded December 2015
The Gralnick Lab investigates gene charactersitics and behavior to study removal processes of metal contaminants.

Engineering Bacteria for Enhanced Bioaccumulation of Toxic Metals 
Awarded December 2015
The Santelli Lab develops an anaerobic passive bioreactor system to promote selenium reduction and attenuation in industrial waters. 

Engineered Biochars for Sulfate Removal from Mining Waters
Awarded August 2015
The Behrens Lab develops a biochar-based product and compares the absorption effectiveness to higher-cost options.