"Environment" research area

Water Treatment & Management

Across the state our urban and rural communities rely on a range of water treatment and management systems to ensure safe and reliable drinking water, as well as clean, uncontaminated recreational water. The responsibility of delivering safe and clean water in a reliable fashion is shared by a variety of agencies, organizations, and communities, and MnDRIVE Environment continues to partner with these stakeholders to offer innovative solutions to their specific needs. The advances in research and innovative technology solutions that our collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects explore offer distinct environmental and economic benefits.

Research Projects

Using Branching Fungus to Bioremediate Hard-to-Reach Contaminants
Awarded July 2022
The Kang Lab employs branching fungi to remove contaminants from aquifers and other hard-to-reach places. 

Addition of Low-Cost, Phenolic-Rich Biomass to Reduce CO2 Emissions and Phosphorus Leakage from Restored Peatlands
Awarded March 2022
The Lenhart Lab applies vegetation and low-cost wood chips to enhance pollutant reduction in restored peatlands

Reactive Biomaterial to Adsorb and Degrade PFAS in Water
Awarded January 2022
The Aksan Lab applies adsorption technology to bacteria that biodegrades for advancing the removal of PFAS. 

Delivering Microbial Bioremediation Enzymes via Sterile Animals
Awarded January 2022
Smanski researches the benefits of transgenic animals in the innovation of bioremediation methods. 

Regenerable Membranes for Phosphate Removal and Recovery from Water
Awarded January 2022
Pierre and team target eutrophication by designing specialized membranes. 

Engineering Biolfilms to Optimize Biodegradation of Lignin Waste
Awarded January 2022
Yang and team investigate the ideal characteristics and conditions for effective contaminant degradation methods.

Cyanotoxin Bioremediation with Microbes
Awarded January 2022
Travisano and team explore microbial bioremediation of cyanotoxins.

Undergraduate Training in Encapsulation of PFAS Degrading Bacteria
Awarded December 2021
The Aksan Lab utilizes silica encapsulation technology to biodegrade fluorinated compounds.

Cyanobacteria, Ciliates, and Cyanotoxins Interplay
Awarded December 2021
The Travisano Lab applies a biological-based predation assay to investigate cyanotoxin function. 

Clays for Mitigation of HABs
Awarded June 2021
Yang mitigates harmful algal blooms and toxins using clays.

Microbes in Hard-to-Reach Places
Awarded June 2021
Kang introduces branching microbes to remediate groundwater contaminants.

Microplastic Pollution from Paint
Awarded June 2021
The Penn Lab analyzes contamination surrounding paint fragments in aquatic systems and study photodegradation as a strategy to combat it. 

Sustainable Extraction of Environmental Microplastics
Awarded June 2021
Cari Dutcher explores sustainable ways of extracting microplastics using bioflocculants.

Microbial Remediation of Personal Care Products
Awarded June 2021
Thomas Niehaus utilizes microbial communities for bioremediation of personal care products. 

Managing Septic System Contaminants
Awarded June 2021
Sara Heger applies biochar and iron-enhanced sands in septic systems. 

A New Method for Treating Agricultural Wastewater
Awarded January 2021
Ruan and team demonstrate an integrated biological system for animal wastewater treatment through utilization of active microbes.

Improving Removal of Sulfate from Wastewater at a Minnesota Power Facility
Awarded January 2021
Chan Lan Chun and team research a biological sulfate treatment coupled with sulfide immobilization for electric power utility water.

Novel Biodegradation Pathways of PFAS Compounds
Awarded June 2020
Mikael Elias and team identify and characterize the novel PFAS-degrading enzymes from bacteria to research biodegredation applications.

Using Microbes to Remove Nitrogen and Methane from Wastewater
Awarded June 2020
Chan Lan Chun and team discover microbes as the less expensive and more efficient substitues for carbon in the nitrogen and methane removal process to advance dentrificaion technology.

Using Old Tires for New Remediation Strategies
Awarded December 2019
John Gulliver and team invesitgate a Tire Derived Aggregate for stormwater treatment as they test the contaminant filtration abilities and progress towards cleaner remediation implementations.

Optimizing Biofilm Growth in Porous Media for Cleaner Water
Awarded December 2019
Peter Kang and team turn biofilm-induced clogging into a bioremediation technology that optimizes contaminant removal conditions by experimenting at the microscopic pore-scale.

Remediation of PFAS in Landfill Leachate
Awarded December 2019
A research team led by Matt Simcik and Bill Arnold will conduct lab experiments to assess the effectiveness of charged polymers in removing PFAS from leachate, under wastewater treatment conditions.

Treating Urban Water Using Renewable Waste Materials
Awarded December 2019
Joe Magner and team test the compentency of renewable-derived biochar on filtering out urban developed contaminants from water systems.

Electrically Stimulated Wetlands to Improve Microbial Dentrification
Awarded August 2019
Sebastian Behrens and Team explore multiple operating scenarios to identify low-cost, high nitrate removal strategies for electrically-stimulated surface flow wetlands.

Nitrification of Wastewaters in Cold Temperatures
Awarded July 2019
Timothy LaPara and team use microorganisms and enhanced cold temperatures for the bioremediation of polluted waters.

A Strategy to Overcome Biofilm Plugging of Bioreactors
Awarded December 2018
Mikael Elias and team address biofilm plugging of carbon-dosed dentrifying bioreactors with quorum quenching lactonase.

Battling Biocorrosion in the Duluth-Superior Harbor
Awarded November 2018
This Demonstration project, led by Mikael Elias and Randall Hicks, utilizes naturally occuring enzymes to coat and protect submerged steel infrastructure from biocorrosion.

Technology to Eliminate Recreational Water Waste
Awarded February 2018
The Aksan lab investigates a bioreaction method to reduce pool drainage and efficiently maintain chlorine efficacy. 

Enhancing Water Treatment Using Nitrate-Metabolizing Microbes
Awarded February 2018
Ishii's team investigate the role of microbial communities in denitrification of waterwater, and how to optimize removal of excess nitrate during treatment.

Improving the Process of Industrial Wastewater Treatment
Awarded February 2018
Paige Novak leads this Demonstration project, with partners Metropolitan Council and Fulton Brewery, that tests a treatment system which uses bacteria to remediate brewery wastewater while also producing hydrogen and methane to potentially use as a fuel source.

Advanced Biocomposite Materials for Bioremediation
Awarded August 2017
Claudia Schmitt-Dannert leads this project that designs an adaptable bioremediation strategy applicable across a range of contamination obstacles through the use of modifiable encaplsulins. 

Novel Algae Bioreactor for the Removal of Manganese and Sulfate from Water
Awarded June 2016
Ishii innovates manganese and sulfate removal with a bioreactor designed to mimic a natural phenomenon.

Electromagnetic Enhancement of Microbial Processes to Improve Water Quality
Awarded June 2016
The Chun Lab researches optimal field conditions and proccesses for the remediation of Nitrate and other water contaminants. 

Removing Mercury and Microorganisms from Minnesota Waters
Awarded June 2016
The Abbas Lab uses composit sponge technology to mitigate water contaminants. 

Helping Aquatic Insects Counteract the Effects of Fungicides
Awarded June 2016
The Ferrington Lab researches indirect and chronic influences of fungicides in surface waters on beneficial microbial symbionts of aquatic insects.  

Electrically Stimulating Microbes to Remove Sulfate from Mining Drainage
Awarded December 2015
The Chun Lab researches the development of electrod-based bioreactors to reduce sulfate levels in mining water. 

Disrupting Bacterial Communication to Reduce Biocorrosion of Minnesota's Maritime Transportation Infrastructure
Awarded December 2015
The Hicks Lab tests the efficacy of an enzyme in preventing corrosion and biofilm formation.

Enzymatic Removal of Organic Contaminants from Water
Awarded December 2015
The Kazlauskas Lab engineers enzymes to determine the most effective way to remove hydrophic and organic contaminants. 

Capturing and Repurposing Nitrogen and Phosphorus from Agricultural Runoff
Awarded August 2015
The Ishii Lab utilizes an algal granule bioreactors for Nitrogen and Phosphate bioremediation. 

Pharmaceutical Micropollutants in Wastewater Treatment Plants
Awarded August 2015
The Sander Lab examines the fate of pharmaceutical wastewater treatment plants and strategies to reduce their release into the environment.