U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Utilizing Innovative Materials Science Approaches to Enhance Bioremediation: Session II - Chlorinated Compounds

Sponsored by: NIEHS Superfund Research Program

Archived: Friday, April 29, 2022
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The NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) is hosting a Progress in Research webinar series to showcase new breakthroughs to advance sustainable solutions for hazardous substances in the environment. The three-part series will feature SRP individual research projects funded in 2020, who are incorporating new advances in materials science to optimize bioremediation of contaminants in soil, sediment, or water. In each session, awardees will describe their research projects, accomplishments, and next steps.

The second session will showcase novel tools and improved techniques to clean up sites contaminated with chlorinated compounds.

Florida State University researchers are designing sorbents to clean up groundwater contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and chlorinated volatile organic contaminants (VOCs). Consisting of a set of repeating cyclic macromolecules with unique geometry and internal chemistry, the sorbents can form specific microbe-contaminant complexes with only selected molecules, such as 1,4-dioxane.

At Oregon State University, investigators are developing a strategy to use bacteria encapsulated with a slow-release compound in hydrogel beads to break down complex mixtures of contaminants, such as VOCs and 1,4-dioxane. Using materials science and laboratory studies, the team aims inform long-term bioremediation solutions to treat a broad range of contaminants.

Researchers at the University of Iowa are investigating how activated carbon can be used to enhance the performance of bacteria used to break down halogenated pollutants, such as chlorinated ethenes. By re-engineering carbon materials, they hope to influence the composition of the degrading microbial community and increase their ability to break down mixtures of halogenated contaminants.

A team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is developing carbon-based sorbent materials to enhance the ability of bacteria to break down mixtures of chlorinated organic contaminants, such as chloroethene and polychlorinated biphenyls, in groundwater and sediments. They hope to integrate their laboratory findings with advanced site models to assess field-scale remedial applications.

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A photograph of Youneng Tang, Ph.D.Youneng Tang, Ph.D., Florida State University (
Youneng Tang, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at Florida State University. He received a doctoral degree in Environmental Engineering from Arizona State University. Tang's group studies biofilm processes during in-situ bioremediation of contaminated groundwater and ex-situ treatment of water. The contaminants that his group are currently researching include chlorinated organic compounds, 1,4-dioxane, per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), and some metals.

A photograph of Yuexiao Shen, Ph.D.Yuexiao Shen, Ph.D., Texas Tech University (
Yuexiao Shen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering at Texas Tech University. He received his Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State University. His group is developing highly selective materials for environmental remediation including chlorinated organic compounds, 1,4-dioxane, and PFAS. Dr. Shen is also interested in innovative materials for critical mineral recovery from brine and e-waste.

A photograph of Lewis Semprini, Ph.D.Lewis Semprini, Ph.D., Oregon State University (
Lewis Sempini, Ph.D., studies biological processes for the treatment of hazardous wastes, and on the fate and transport of organic contaminants in the environment. He specializes in field, laboratory, and modeling studies of both aerobic and anaerobic processes for treating chlorinated solvents and emerging contaminants. His research efforts over the past 30 years have aimed at integrating the results of field, laboratory, and modeling studies to effectively apply bioremediation technologies for the cleanup of contaminated sites.

A photograph of Tim Mattes, Ph.D.Tim Mattes, Ph.D., University of Iowa (
Timothy (Tim) Mattes, Ph.D., has been a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa since 2004. His research and teaching expertise focus in the areas of environmental microbiology, environmental biotechnology, bioremediation and environmental engineering. His major research interests include application of microbiology and molecular microbial ecology techniques to understand the roles of microorganisms in biodegradation of hazardous compounds in the environment, such as chlorinated ethenes, polychlorinated biphenyls, 1,4-dioxane and explosives. Dr. Mattes received a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University.

A photograph of Wenqing Xu, Ph.D.Wenqing Xu, Ph.D., Villanova University (
Wenqing Xu, Ph.D., is currently an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova University. The central focus of her research program is to better understand the various ways that nature detoxifies contaminants by the integration of chemical, biological, and material sciences approaches to attenuate pollutant transport and thereby protect source water and degrade contaminants with novel materials to provide safe drinking water. Dr. Xu has served as a principal and co-principal investigator of projects funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Environmental Protection Agency on research involving the development of reactive adsorbents for pollutant abatement, such as chlorinated solvents, pesticides, munitions constituents, PFAS and disinfection byproducts. She is a recipient of various awards, including the NSF CAREER award (2018) and the University Scholarly Achievement Award (2020).

A photograph of Upal Ghosh, Ph.D.Upal Ghosh, Ph.D., Department of Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County ( or 410-455-8665)
Upal Ghosh Ph.D., is a professor in the department of Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He has a B. Tech in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India, an M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and completed a Postdoc at Carnegie Mellon University and worked as a Research Associate at Stanford University. He is currently the Principal investigator for the Development of in-situ Mercury Remediation Approaches Based on Methylmercury Bioavailability NIEHS R01 grant and recently completed and NIEHS R01 grant titled Combining Bioavailability Assays with Modeling to Predict PCBs in Fish after Remediation. His group performs research in environmental engineering and science with a focus on the fate, effects, and remediation of toxic pollutants in the environment. They use multidisciplinary tools to investigate exposure and bioavailability of organic and metal contaminants to organisms and this new understanding is used to develop novel remediation technologies and site-specific remediation goals. Recent projects have focused on contaminants such as PCBs, PAHs, pesticides, dioxins, and mercury. For more information please refer to Dr. Ghosh's faculty profile.


A photograph of Cindy FrickleCindy Frickle, U.S. EPA Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation ( or 202-566-0927)
Cindy Frickle is a physical scientist with EPA's Superfund program where she reviews and propagates technical information to site cleanup professionals through Clu-In, EPA forums, and interagency channels. Prior to joining EPA, she spent time characterizing contaminated sites, coring sediments, studying microbes, and teaching. She completed her Biogeology MS and Geology BS in the University of Minnesota's School of Earth Sciences.

A photograph of Jean BalentJean Balent, U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division ( or 202-566-0832)
Ms Balent is on the staff of the EPA's Technology Innovation and Field Services Division where she has worked to collect and disseminate hazardous waste remediation and characterization information since 2003. Ms Balent manages the Clean Up Information Network website and actively supports online communication and collaboration resources available to EPA. She formerly worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Engineering Division in the Buffalo District. Ms Balent was also a member of the SUNY-Buffalo Groundwater Research Group where she constructed and tested large scale models of groundwater flow. Ms Balent has also conducted research relating to the Great Lakes, environmental remediation, and brownfields re-development. She holds a Bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from SUNY-Buffalo and a Master's degree in Information Technology from AIU.

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Jean Balent
Technology Integration and Information Branch

PH: 202-566-0832 | Email:
Michael Adam
Technology Integration and Information Branch

PH: 202-566-0875 | Email: