Explore the Nano World 

 Wen's Research Group​

Dr. Zhang’s research group was recently awarded two research grants from The United States Geological Survey (USGS) via The New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute (NJWRRI), which is a federally funded program of research, training, and information transfer concerning all aspects of fresh and estuarine water in New Jersey.

Project 1: Green Soil Washing and Decontamination with Nanobubble Water
Student fellow researcher: Shan Xue; PI: Wen Zhang, Co PI: Taha Marhaba, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Industrial and agricultural activities as well as wastewater discharge bring tons of pollutants such as heavy metals, chemical fertilizers and pesticides to sediments and soil. New Jersey, for instance, has the large number of brown sites and superfund sites in the US that are characterized by many persistent legacy contaminants that must be treated to prevent human exposure. Conventional soil remediation includes soil washing/flushing, thermal desorption, vitrification, and bioremediation, which, however, are relatively expensive and chemically intensive. This project aims to evaluate a green and powerful washing process using nanobubbles (NBs) water for soil contaminant removal to support sustainable remediation practices for soil and sediments and prevent water pollution. The project will examine (1) the removal of different common soil contaminants (e.g., petroleum, PFASs and heavy metals) under flushing and washing processes with nanobubble (NB)-containing water; (2) the mechanisms of interactions between different types of NBs (e.g., CO2, O2 and H2), soil and selected soil contaminants. The project findings will provide an insight for novel chemical-free and sustainable soil cleaning technologies for remediation of contaminated soil and thus reduce the water pollution.

Project 2: Electrochemically Reactive Membrane System for Simultaneous Nitrate Reduction and Ammonia Recovery
Student fellow researcher: Jianan Gao; PI: Wen Zhang, Co PI: Taha Marhaba, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, New Jersey Institute of TechnologyGroundwater is one of the critical and essential water sources for irrigation, drinking, and industrial applications. Out of the total 349 billion gallons of freshwater extracted in the USA, 26% estimates to be groundwater. The USGS reported that the fresh groundwater withdrawals (82.3 billion gal∙d-1) in 2015 in USA is increasing by about 8 percent every five years. Groundwater contamination has become a severe problem throughout the world due to the various geogenic, anthropogenic, emerging contaminants from industrial and non-industrial sectors. For instance, nitrates, pesticides and biocides, pharmaceuticals and hormones, non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs), organic solvents, and acid mine drainage (AMD) are detected in surface waters and groundwater of New Jersey (NJ), which constitute public drinking water systems (PWS). Many substances such as lead, nickel, trichloroethene (TCE), tetrachloroethene (PCE) that are widely used today find ways to reach groundwater and impose negative impacts on the environmental or human health. There is an urgent need for new water purification technologies that satisfy escalating worldwide demand for clean water. In this project, we aim to evaluate an innovative mixed valence states of Cu (Cu0, Cu1+, and Cu2+)-fabricated Electrochemically Reactive Membrane (ERM) to effectively address nitrate pollution in groundwater and contamination sites of New Jersey. Specifically, this project will investigate the possibility of a novel cost-effective technology capable of groundwater remediation and nutrients recovery for treatment facility cost compensation and agricultural enhancing in a sustainable manner.

Wen Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE

Principal Investigator

Phone: (973) 596-5520 
Fax: (973) 596-5790
Email: wen.zhang@njit.edu

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

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