2016 Environmental Engineering Abstracts

Poster Number: ENE-01

Title: Evaluating the Threat of Upwelling Brines in Lower Michigan - A Data-Intensive Groundwater Sustainability Study

Authors: Zachary Curtis; Huasheng Liao; Prasanna Sampath; Shu-Guang Li

Abstract: Several studies suggest that upwelling brines are the source of elevated salinity in some near-surface groundwater environments of the Michigan Basin, including east-central Lower Michigan, southwestern Ontario, and beneath Lake Michigan and Saginaw Bay. Recently, elevated groundwater salinity has been observed in west-central Lower Michigan (Michigan Lowlands). We hypothesize that the elevated salinity of the shallow groundwater in the Michigan lowlands is related to the complex upwelling of brine seen elsewhere in the Basin, and that human activity and/or climate change has enhanced the upwelling in recent years. Multi-scale, data-driven simulations of water quality ([Cl-]) and groundwater hydrology revealed a hierarchical pattern of low [Cl-] in recharge areas and elevated [Cl-] in discharge areas of Lower Michigan – compelling evidence for the widespread upwelling of brines. Geospatial analysis of collected field samples and historical water quality data in the Michigan Lowlands supports the upwelling hypothesis, and temporal analysis of Cl- concentrations shows a general increase with time. A water use model developed for the past 50 years correlates areas with increased pumping with current-day Cl- contamination in the Michigan Lowlands. A fully three-dimensional transient groundwater model is being calibrated to archived static water levels (SWLs) collected over the past 50 years to evaluate long-term groundwater sustainability in this region. Preliminary results show that areas with significant simulated drawdown (1966-2015) correspond to Cl- “hot-spots”. Future work includes finishing the model calibration, developing “hot-spot” sub-models, and forecasting groundwater conditions for the next 5, 10, 20 and 50 years.

This work was supported in part by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development County of Ottawa (Michigan)


Poster Number: ENE-02

Title: Deposition Kinetics of Bacteriophage MS2 onto Charged Surfaces

Authors: Hien T. T. Dang; Volodymyr V. Tarabara

Abstract: Deposition kinetics of bacteriophage MS2 over the negatively-charged gold sensor and positively-charged polyelectrolyte-coated sensors were studied by using quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D). The PEMs were assembled in different ionic strengths by alternately depositing the negatively-charged poly(styrene-4-sulfonate) (PSS) and positively-charged poly(dimethyl diallyl ammonium chloride) (PDADMAC). Two assembled PEMs had zeta potentials of 7.35 and 27.5 mV, respectively. MS2 deposition kinetics onto the negative surface was more favorable at a high ionic strength of 100 mM, while in tests with the positively-charged surface lower ionic strength promoted deposition. The trends are consistent with the hypothesis that electrostatic repulsion controls MS2-surface interaction. Predictions by the Dejaguin-Laudau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory corroborated the hypothesis. The evolution pf QCM-D frequency indicated that deposition-induced charge compensation or reversal may be controlling the overall amount of deposited virus. Overall, the attachment efficiency (αA) of MS2 on the same PEM was calculated to be 10-30 times higher in 100 mM NaCl than in 10 mM NaCl.


Poster Number: ENE-03

Title: Source-Separated Urine Processing Using Clays: Nitrogen Recovery and Pathogen Removal

Authors: Sanpreet Gill; Ruiwei Sui; Lucas Notarantonio; Rebecca Lahr

Abstract: Urine contains 80% of the N and 50% of the P in municipal wastewater, but accounts for only 1% of the total wastewater volume. Therefore, it is beneficial to separate urine from wastewater to generate low-value fertilizer products, similar to our methods for recycling plastics. The urine of healthy adults can contain low levels of Pseudomonas, Clostridium, and Staphylococcus which can grow in urine diversion systems and persist through the initial steps of urine processing. Therefore, we are examining the capabilities of clays, such as bentonite and chabazite to both recover nutrients and reduce the risks of pathogens in source-separated urine derived fertilizer products. The use of low cost technologies can aid in closed loop sanitation system and improving lives of people around the globe. Moreover, producing low value fertilizer products may reduce our dependence on high-end synthetic fertilizers. This research involves design and construction of a pilot scale reactor to examine and optimize N recovery and the removal of pathogens from source-separated urine using the untested bentonite and chabazite. A well-established PCR-chip method is being used to rapidly monitor pathogens. The influence of the sampling level, grain size, and working regime (column bed with varying height of sorption media) on the fate of microorganisms and the recovery of nitrogen is being studied. Anticipated outcomes include pilot scale reactor, understanding of the fate of pathogens at each phase of the reactor.


Poster Number: ENE-04

Title: The Application of Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) for Rapid Detection of vcrA, bvcA and tceA in Groundwater Samples

Authors: Yogendra Kanitkar; Robert Stedtfeld; Syed Hashsham; Paul Hatzinger; Alison Cupples

Abstract: TTypically, real time PCR (qPCR) is to monitor the activity of Dehalococcoides spp. in groundwater. Although qPCR methods have been successful for monitoring reductive dechlorination, alternate molecular methods that are faster and cheaper, may make quantification easier. We developed LAMP assays for the rapid and specific quantification of the reductive dehalogenase genes vcrA, tceA, and bvcA in bioaugmented groundwater samples. The quantification of DNA templates with LAMP was compared to qPCR and the use of direct amplification for quantification was investigated. The method was applied to two commercially available cultures (SDC-9 and KB-1). Groundwater samples obtained from bioaugmented sites Concord, CA (3), Tulsa, OK (15), and Kelly Air force Base, TX (7) were used to prepare triplicates of three amplification template types (DNA templates, direct cells, and centrifuged cells) for each sample. to evaluate the effectiveness of direct amplification templates for absolute quantification, quantification of direct cell and centrifuged templates were compared with DNA templates. Quantification with LAMP using DNA templates was comparable to qPCR (R2~0.99). Quantification using direct cells underestimated the target gene copies in groundwater samples compared to DNA templates. However, quantification was effective above >106 gene copies/L which is lower than107 gene copies/L, the accepted threshold for natural attenuation. Current efforts involve establishing a quantitative relationship between gene numbers obtained with extracted DNA and those obtained with direct cells. If such a relationship can be established, then future monitoring efforts could occur without the use of DNA extraction.

This work was supported in part by Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program


Poster Number: ENE-05

Title: Microwave Assisted Synthesis: Chloroaluminium Phtalocyanine for Transparent Organic Photovoltaics

Authors: Eunsang Lee; Cameron J. Andrews; Annick Anctil

Abstract: Metal phthalocyanine (M-Pcs) are macrocyclic compounds that are widely used as blue-green dye because of their adjustable absorption property and chemical stability. M-Pcs can be also used as electron donor material in organic photovoltaic (OPV) since they are organic semiconductor. Among the various M-Pcs absorbing light around 700nm, chloroaluminium phthalocyanine (ClAlPc) in thin layers absorbs only in the near-infrared region. Solar cells can therefore be transparent, which allows their use in new applications such as windows. Since ClAlPc is not commonly used by the dye industry, its synthesis conditions have not been well studied. Two precursors have been mainly used to synthesis M-Pcs: phthalonitrile (PN) and phthalic anhydride (PA). Although it is known that PN produces higher purity M-Pcs, PA is preferred by the dye industry because of its lower cost. However, the PA process increases impurity in M-Pcs, which reduces the efficiency of OPV. The goal of this work is to establish optimal synthesis conditions of ClAlPc for two precursors in term of material purity for OPV application. So far, ClAlPc synthesis has been performed under heating mantle at approximately 240 °C for 6 hours with refluxing aromatic hydrocarbon solvent having high boiling point. This work presents microwave synthesis that allows reaction time reduced to 1 hour for both precursors under same conditions, reducing reaction time remarkably. Another advantage of microwave synthesis is feasibility of various reaction condition. Therefore, we will control pressure, power (energy intensity), and temperature to optimize ClAlPc synthesis, and analyze ClAlPc purity by mass spectrometry and UV-visible spectrometry.

This work was supported in part by A Green Chemistry Approach to Organic and Transparent Photovoltaic Material Synthesis and Device Fabrication (NSF-1511098)


Poster Number: ENE-06

Title: Metagenomic Analysis of Antibiotic Resistant Genes in a Conventional and Membrane Bioreactor Wastewater Treatment Plant

Authors: Camille McCall; Mariya Munir; Terence Marsh; Irene Xagoraraki

Abstract: Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are known environments for the presence and transfer of antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs), an evolving environmental pollutant. This study aimed to explore the prevalence of ARGs and antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) in two different (conventional and membrane bioreactor (MBR)) municipal WWTPs in Michigan (USA). A bioinformatics approach was implemented in order to detect ARGs in three metagenomes: activated sludge (AS), before disinfection (BD), and effluent, or after disinfection (AD) in each WWTP. Sequence alignment tools were used to align genetic material to two nucleotide ARG reference databases. Metagenomic alignment detected sulfonamide, tetracycline, macrolides, elfamycin, aminoglycoside, and β-lactamase to be prevalent (≥ 80% nucleotide homology) ARGs in both WWTPs. Effluent samples yielded the highest presence of ARGs in each plant compared to AS and BD samples. Quantitative analysis found that 57.89 and 41.67% of unique prevalent ARGs appeared after disinfection for the conventional and MBR WWTPs, respectively. Chlorine disinfection revealed a greater presence of ARGs in effluent samples relative to UV disinfection.


Poster Number: ENE-07

Title: Diversity of DNA Viruses in Membrane Bioreactor Effluents in France and the United States: Comparisons with the Effluent of a Conventional Utility and Natural Waters

Authors: Evan O'Brien; Mariya Munir; Terence Marsh; Volodymyr Tarabara; Geoffoy Lesage; Marc Heran; Irene Xagoraraki

Abstract: Metagenomics analysis has been applied to investigate viral diversity in wastewater, but previous studies have focused primarily on raw untreated wastewater and activated sludge, with little research directed towards studying viral diversity in treated wastewater effluent. Still less research has been performed to study the impact of the wastewater treatment process performed and the disinfection method utilized. This study aims to assess viral diversity in the effluents of three wastewater treatment plants in the United States and France, two membrane bioreactors and one conventional activated sludge plant, with three different types of disinfection. Analyses show that the primary treatment process utilized has little impact on effluent viral diversity; more significant is the type of disinfection applied. Comparisons show that wastewater effluents have significantly different viral diversity with relation to receiving surface water bodies, indicating that disinfection should be a considered factor when assessing the impact of wastewater effluent on environmental microbial diversity.


Poster Number: ENE-08

Title: Microbial Water Quality Characterization at Sloan Creek in Red Cedar River Watershed

Authors: Amira Oun; Ruth Kline-Robach; Irene Xagoraraki

Abstract: Sources of fecal water pollution were assessed in the Sloan creek (sub-watershed of Red Cedar river watershed), which was newly listed as impaired according to MDEQ 2014 integrated report. The current work aims to determine whether microbial water quality standards (WQS) are being met and to identify the probable source of contamination in the watershed by using: Culture fecal indicator (E.coli), total and host-specific (human and bovine) Bacteroidales genetic markers, and microbial diversity identification using Illumina sequencing and metagenomics analysis. These methods used in conjunction with environmental information such as land use, precipitation, and water flowrate in the creek. Water samples were collected from three sites in the watershed once a week and following each rain event during Spring and summer of 2015. Culture fecal indicator E. coli were routinely detected in the three sampled sites. 75% of samples (n= 192) exceed the recreational water quality guidelines by several orders of magnitude. High concentrations of total Bacteroides spp, and Human and bovine associated Bacteroides were detected in the three sites indicating influence of multiple sources of contaminations. Results suggest that the probable sources of contamination are leakage from septic tanks and runoff from a concentrated animal feeding operation located nearby Sloan Creek.


Poster Number: ENE-09

Title: Circulation and Thermal Structure in Michigan's Inland Lakes: A Comparative Analysis Across Lakes

Authors: Ammar Safaie; Tuan D. Nguyen; Elena Litchman; Mantha S. Phanikumar

Abstract: We investigate physical processes in Michigan's inland lakes during the summer months using field observations and numerical modeling. A three-dimensional, unstructured grid hydrodynamic model was applied to Lake Huron (59,600 km2) and Gull Lake (8 km2 surface area), a relatively small lake located in southwestern Michigan in the Kalamazoo County. We use Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler observations of currents and waves as well as temperature data form thermistor chains to test the numerical models. Field observations and model results are analyzed using spectral and wavelet analyses to gain insights into the physical processes in the lakes.

This work was supported in part by This work was supported by National Science Foundation.


Poster Number: ENE-10

Title: Carbamazepine Biodegradation, Putative Carbamazepine Biodegrading Phylotypes and Xenobiotic Degrading Genes in Agricultural Soils

Authors: Jean-Rene Thelusmond; Timothy J. Strathmann; Alison M. Cupples

Abstract: The antiepileptic drug carbamazepine (CBZ) has been introduced into agricultural soils via irrigation with treated wastewater and biosolids application. Such contamination is problematic given CBZ recalcitrance and its unknown risks to the ecosystems or human health. This study examined CBZ biodegradation in two agricultural soils (4 and 6) and its effects on the soil microbial communities. The experimental design involved three CBZ concentrations, aerobic and anaerobic conditions and two sampling events. CBZ concentrations were determined using a modified QuECHERS approach, solid phase extraction and LC MS/MS. The effect of CBZ on the soil microbial community was investigated using high throughput sequencing and a computational approach predicting functional composition of the metagenomes (PICRUSt). The most significant CBZ biodegradation occurred in soil 4 under aerobic conditions. Contrastingly, CBZ biodegradation was limited under anaerobic conditions in soil 4 and under both conditions in soil 6. For soil 4, several phylotypes were enriched following CBZ degradation compared to the controls. These phylotypes are considered putative CBZ degraders as they appear to be benefiting from CBZ biodegradation. In contrast, numerous phylotypes decreased in abundance following CBZ exposure. PICRUSt revealed a greater abundance of xenobiotic degrading genes in soil 4 compared to soil 6.

This work was supported in part by United States Department of Agriculture


Poster Number: ENE-11

Title: Behavior of Oil Droplets at the Membrane Surface During Microfiltration

Authors: Emily N. Tummons; Volodymyr V. Tarabara; Jia Wei Chew; Anthony G. Fane

Abstract: A fundamental study of microfiltration membrane fouling by emulsified oil was conducted using a combination of real-time visualization, force balance on a droplet, and permeate flux analysis. The model 0.1% v/v hexadecane-in-water emulsions contained sodium dodecyl sulfate (0.1 mM, 0.4 mM, or 0.8 mM) to regulate interfacial tension. Direct Observation Through the Membrane tests with Anopore (0.2 µm pore diameter) and track-etch (5 µm pore diameter) membranes revealed three characteristic stages of membrane fouling: 1) droplet attachment and clustering, 2) droplet deformation, and 3) droplet coalescence. In qualitative agreement with visualization results, the force balance predicted that droplets less than or equal to 40 µm would remain pinned at 5 µm pores while larger droplets would be swept off the surface by the crossflow drag. In a separate set of constant pressure crossflow filtration tests with track-etch membranes, the average oil rejection was ≥ 98% while the permeate flux decreased to a pseudo-steady-state ~10% of the initial value. The results indicate that membrane fouling by emulsified oil is controlled by droplet coalescence and crossflow shear: the transport of oil to the membrane surface by the permeate flow is balanced by the shear-induced removal of the droplets that coalesce to exceed a critical size.

This work was supported in part by This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for Emily N. Tummons under Grant no. DGE-0802267 and the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education program u


Poster Number: ENE-12

Title: Utilizing Fermentation Byproducts to Enhance Hydrogen Production Using Spinel Photocatalysts

Authors: Xiaoyu Wang; Susan Masten; Simon Davies

Abstract: It is important to find clean, renewable energy sources which are more abundant, have a lower-cost, and produce less pollution than fossil fuels. One route to this goal is to use sunlight and a semiconductor photocatalyst to produce hydrogen. In this process sunlight excites electrons from the valence band of the photocatalyst into its conduction band where the electron may reduce water or H+ to hydrogen. Unfortunately the efficiency of this process is very low due to rapid electron-hole recombination. One way to enhance the efficiency of this process is to use a hole scavenger to reduce the extent of electron-hole recombination. In this work the effect of various scavengers found in wastewaters, such as alcohols and organic acids, on photohydrogen production is being investigated. The ultimate aim of the study is to produce hydrogen while also reducing the amount of these waste products in the water.


Poster Number: ENE-13

Title: Pieces of the Puzzle: How Physical and Meteorological Factors Combine to Impact Bacterial Concentrations at Chicago Beaches

Authors: Chelsea Weiskerger; Meredith Nevers; Richard Whitman; Phanikumar Mantha

Abstract: Bacterial content observed at beaches along Lake Michigan’s southwestern shore varies on temporal and spatial scales. Previous research indicates that these variations are due in part to meteorological conditions, but in order to effectively assess beach conditions and how they relate to bacterial contamination, these beaches must be considered as systems; affected by weather, waves, usage, geology, morphology. In this study, geomorphic conditions at twenty Chicago beaches are compared to meteorological factors, in terms of ability to predict bacterial contamination. Regression tree and path analyses are conducted on a combination of meteorological and geomorphic factors. This leads to a hierarchy of factors which significantly account for variation in daily E. coli observations and beach-by-beach probability of advisory or closure due to bacterial contamination. Path analyses show that for daily E. coli counts, physical and meteorological factors explain 30.7% of the variation in data, with 17 out of 21 variables playing a statistically significant role in explaining the data. However, these variables account for 77.0% of the variation in the probability of advisory or closure data, with 17 out of the 21 variables showing statistical significance. These analyses can help elucidate the relative importance of a variety of factors, and shed light on the difference between analyzing raw E. coli and aggregating data by beach. Knowing the relative importance of meteorological and physical factors in bacterial contamination at Chicago beaches will allow managers and researchers to improve upon predictive models for beach contamination, based on empirical data.

This work was supported in part by United States Geological Survey, Contract G13PX01435


Poster Number: ENE-14

Title: The Effect of Environmental Exposure on Interactions Between the Gut Microbiome and the Host Immune Response

Authors: Maggie R. Williams; Robert D. Stedtfeld; Tiffany Stedtfeld; Robert Crawford; Prianca Bhaduri; Tomomi Kuwahara; Brad Upham; James M. Tiedje; Norbert Kaminski; Syed A. Hashsham

Abstract: The relationship between the gut microbiome and the host is a crucial symbiotic relationship, with implications in various diseases, as well as important roles in homeostasis, energy production, and modulation of the immune response. Disrupting the balance of Treg/Th17 in the immune system can lead to disease and inflammation. Exposure to contaminants such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) can cause disruption by increasing the ratio of Treg/Th17 while two groups of microbial populations (segmented filamentous bacteria; SFBs and Clostridia clusters IV and XIVa) can prevent disruption. In this study, the relationship between environmental exposure, key microbial groups and the host immune response was investigated. Mice from four groups, including i. mono-associated (SFBs), ii. di-associated (Clostridia cluster IV and XIVa, and B. fragilis), iii. tri-associated (SFBs, Clostridia cluster IV and XIVa and B. fragilis), and control (germ-free), were dosed with 30 ug/kg of TCDD every four days. After 30 days, mice were sacrificed and tissues were collected. Blood and spleen samples were analyzed for Th17 and Treg cells while RNA was extracted from intestinal sections for microbiome transcriptomic analysis. Overall, the presence of bacteria in the gut modulated the immune response by maintaining the balance between Treg/Th17 between the control and treated groups. SFBs alone were responsible for increasing Th17 production, while Clostridia cluster IV and XIVa and B. fragilis together further increased the Treg/Th17 ratio. For the tri-associated groups, there was no change between the treated and control groups, suggesting that these microbial populations together are key modulators of the immune response.

This work was supported in part by This work is funded by the Superfund Research Program (P42ES04911) from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


Poster Number: ENE-15

Title: Evaluation of First Flush Phenomena for Microbiological Pollutants and Dissolved Organic Carbon in Red Cedar River

Authors: Huiyun Wu; Amira Oun; Thomas Voice; David Long; Irene Xagoraraki

Abstract: First flush refers to a phenomenon where the concentrations of contaminants increase dramatically before the peak of flow during a runoff event. Michigan climate is characterized by hot humid summers, cold winters with snowfall, and wet springs. The state receives an average of 30-40 inches of precipitation annually. This climate creates a long period of pollutant build-up deposited on land surfaces during dry weather (November -March) and then washed away in spring when the snow starts to melt into rivers and lakes. The initial storms of the spring season usually have higher pollutant concentrations. These pollutants can be from different sources such as de-icing salts, animal waste, manure and biosolid applications, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. During spring and summers of 2013-15 water samples were collected from Red Cedar River, a stream flowing through farmland and receiving wastewater effluent from several municipalities in central Michigan. The samples were analyzed for fecal indicators (E.coli), human and bovine associated-Bacteroides markers and dissolved organic carbon (DOC).We observed high concentrations of microbiological contaminants in the Red Cedar river following first spring rainfall events and snow melt. The peak concentrations of E.coli and Bacteroides were associated with river discharge peaks. It was found that DOC exhibited first-flush behavior, and a concentration peak occurred before the discharge peak in melting events. Average DOC concentrations increased over the melting period, nearly doubling.

This work was supported in part by MDEQ Michigan Department of Environmental Quality