The University of Arizona and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Join Forces to Tackle the Most Prevalent Contaminants at Superfund Sites

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) SRP Investigators, C. T. Miller and W.G. Gray, and The University of Arizona (UA) SRP Investigator, M.L. Brusseau, received an NIEHS American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Administrative Supplement to collaboratively advance the fundamental understanding of dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) and develop more effective methods of remediation at Superfund sites. This supplement will support a critical advancement in the understanding of the DNAPL dissolution process, which is of significant importance to project managers working to reach health-based cleanup standards.

Chlorinated chemicals are very difficult to remediate because they interact with soil organic matter, form DNAPLs, and are very slow to naturally degrade in the water environment and in subsurface systems.  Typically, at Superfund sites, DNAPL contamination results in a source zone, where the immobile organic liquid is contained, and there is down-gradient groundwater contaminant plume. This newly formed research team will seek to unravel the contributing mechanisms of the DNAPL dissolution process by learning how the morphology (form and structure) of the DNAPL and the topology (properties and spatial relations) of the pore network, as well as the associated aqueous-phase flow field, affect the DNAPL dissolution process.

Through this partnership, the UA and UNC-CH researchers will:

  • Enhance one another’s current research activities
  • Produce mutually advantageous collaborations that combine theory, observation, and computation
  • Support one new full-time research scientist and one part-time undergraduate researcher  at the UA, as well as one new full-time research associate at UNC-CH

Please join the UA SRP in congratulating Investigators, C. T. Miller, W.G. Gray, and M.L. Brusseau for their collaborative research endeavors. We believe this research will advance the field of DNAPL remediation at Superfund sites and aid in the reduction of risk to human health.