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"Emulsion-based delivery of amendments used during subsurface remediation"

By: C. Andrew Ramsburg, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University


Many current approaches to managing groundwater contamination rely on further advances in amendment delivery in order to initiate and sustain contaminant degradation or immobilization. In fact, limited or ineffective delivery is often cited when treatment objectives are not attained. Emulsions, specifically oil-in-water emulsions, have demonstrated potential to aid delivery of remediation amendments. Emulsions also afford opportunities to control the release of active ingredients encapsulated within the droplets. This seminar will highlight some of our research related to uses of emulsions during subsurface remediation. We are currently interested in establishing and maintaining pH control using metal oxide nanoparticles encapsulate within droplets of soybean oil. This work is motivated by the fact that chemical and biological processes employed for the remediation and stewardship of contaminated sites often necessitate control of pH during treatment and, in some cases, long thereafter. Kinetically-stable, particle-laden, oil-in-water emulsions were developed by identifying the stability of the particles within non-polar organic phases. Subsequent emulsification of the particle-in-oil suspension produces oil-in-water emulsions with droplets around one micrometer. Column experiments suggest that these droplets are well transported within model porous media at velocities that correspond with minimal contaminant mobilization under treatment conditions.


Prof. Andrew Ramsburg received his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Upon graduation he continued his studies at Georgia Tech earning a M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering. Prior to joining the faculty at Tufts, Prof. Ramsburg completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Prof. Ramsburg’s experimental investigations combine fundamental and applied aspects to understand and engineer the chemical, biological, and physical processes occurring in multiphase environments. At present, his research projects relate to: emulsion-based delivery of remedial amendments, emulsion-based NAPL recovery, and the fate and transport of pharmaceuticals during aerobic biological treatment processes.

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