Explore the Nano World 

​​​Dr. Zhang’s  research group was recently awarded four research grants from the 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: Carbon Metal Nanohybrids ( CMNHs ) - Impregnated Electrochemically Reactive Membrane (ERM) Filtration for PFAS Removal.
Student fellow researcher: Qingquan Ma; PI: Wen Zhang;

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology
        Currently, approximate 800 million people in the world lack access to hygienic drinking water, and this number will increase to approximately 4 billion by 2030 as estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Water Council (WWC). Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) are a group of anthropogenic chemicals that have been produced and used for over 60 years in a broad spectrum of industrial products or processes. The EPA’s health advisory levels (HALs) indicates that drinking water, with individual or combined concentrations of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), (below 70 parts per trillion), is not expected to result in adverse health effects over a lifetime of exposure. However, a recent report documented that up to 6 million U.S. residents might be exposed to drinking water that exceeds these HALs. Especially, in New Jersey, PFOA was the most commonly detected compound in levels of up to 100 ng/L
 in 17 drinking water systems (57% overall 30 sites), including 6 groundwater sites (33%) and 11 surface water sites (92%). This project will evaluate an innovative Carbon-Metal Nanohybrids (CMNHs)-impregnated Electrochemically reactive Membrane (ERM) to effectively address micropollutants or contaminants of emerging concern in drinking water treatment.

Project 2: Effects of Microbubble Formation on Sediment Pollutant Resuspension.
Student fellow researcher:Xiaonan Shi; PI:Wen Zhang;

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology
        Particularly, bubble-facilitated contaminant transport is one of the most important processes or causes of pollutant release and resuspension. Microbubbles (MBs) are generally defined as gaseous bubbles with diameter typically between 10 and 100 μm. Microbubbles could form usually because of microbial metabolisms that lead to production of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and hydrogen (H2). Due to the disturbance from bubble ebullition, sediment pollutants may rise to the water-sediment interface and begin to partition to water phase. However, not many past studies to date systematically examined the MBs-facilitated organic and metal contaminant emission in benthic sediment environment. To address this knowledge gap, we will measure organic and metal contaminant release due to the bubbling process in soil columns and determine the factors (e.g., bubble flux and bubble types) for the pollutant release. This project will be of interest to federal/state regulators, water conservation, remediation industries, research communities, and the public. The project will deliver new data on the fate of persistent pollutants in sediment and water columns and will support the development of effective risk mitigation and management plans accordingly.

Project 3:Assessment of Spent Lithium-ion Batteries on Surface Water Quality: Delineating Baseline Level Changes of Lithium, Cobalt and Lithium Hexafluorophosphate.  
Student fellow researcher:Leqi Lin/ Vikas Patchamatla; PI: Wen Zhang.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology
       Spent lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) contain potentially toxic materials such as cobalt (Co), lithium (Li), nickel (Ni), iron (Fe), aluminum (Al) and copper (Cu), organic binders (polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)) and electrolytes (Lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6). Dust, fumes and wastewater are generated during LIB production, and improper handling and disposal can result in the release of toxic substances, which can contaminate our water system, soil, and affect the biota. However, there has been a lack of investigation into the impact on soil, surface water and rivers near landfills or LIB factories due to the absence of regulations for LIB disposal the past 30 years. This project will evaluate the water contamination near battery factories and landfills to support sustainable development. Ultimately, we aim to elucidate the dynamic changes of the environmental concentrations of Li, Co and LiPF6 compared to the background groups of historical data and provide insight into the potential pollution from the exponential increase of LIB applications.

Project 4:Electrochemical Device Development for Detection and Removal of Perfluorinated Substances in Water
PI:Joshua Young, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering;

Co-PI:Sagnik Basuray, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering;

Co-PI: Wen Zhang, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
      Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pose a significant threat to water sources as they are highly stable, difficult to remove, and cause significant health problems. The NJIT team will combine computational chemistry and experimental/field assessment to optimize the selectivity of novel electrochemical sensors by (1) studying the interaction of various PFAS species with metal-organic framework (MOF) materials to identify MOFs that are selective to different PFAS, (2) developing the electrochemical sensor using the MOF, and (3) testing its efficacy in realistic water matrices. This will result in the development of a rapid, selective, and sensitive electrochemical sensor that can detect and distinguish different PFAS species in source water at very low concentrations.

Sep. 2020: Congratulations! 

Dr. Zhang's  group received two  EPA Phase I Awards.

Sep. 2020: Congratulations! 

Dr. Zhang' received an new NSF Grant.

 Wen's Research Group​

Wen Zhang

Principal Investigator
Associate Professor

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

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

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Jul. 2020: Congratulations! 

Xiaonan and Qingquan received $55,000 NSF INTERN Grant.