Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar
Potable water resources are increasingly stressed by climate change and rapid socio-economic development. Current development demands even more energy and electricity, whose production also consumes clean water, compounding the stress. In this talk, I will introduce nanoscale interfacial reactions that can significantly influence the resiliency and sustainability of these co-dependent climate-water-energy systems and discuss how new understanding of the nanoscale interfacial reactions and their mechanisms can help us design more sustainable carbon and water management systems. In particular, this talk will highlight three systems: (1) Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) nucleation, which is important for carbon dioxide utilization and mineralization processes, pipeline scaling, water purification membrane processes, and energy-related subsurface operations. (2) Arsenic mobilization during managed aquifer recharge. Managed aquifer recharge is an engineering method to replenish groundwater, mitigating the impacts of groundwater over-drafting. (3) Novel desalination processes via photothermal membranes that utilize photothermal effects (sunlight-to-heat conversion in nanostructures). The novel process can increase fouling resistance and energy efficiency in water treatment, ultimately achieving near-zero energy input. This talk will provide useful insights into how we can harness nanoscale interfacial reactions to manage effective CO2 utilization and storage, and how we can generate clean water from unconventional water sources (e.g., wastewater, brackish water, and brine from oil-gas recovery).