Fracking waste. Algae blooms. Oil spills. Industrial runoff. Acid mine drainage. These terms are all too familiar.
And they signal the costly threat posed by the industrialized world to the natural environment we ultimately depend on.
It’s at this juncture — where industry touches nature — that civil and environmental engineer Lucia Rodriguez-Freire does her research. An assistant professor in NJIT’s Newark College of Engineering, Dr. Rodriguez-Freire and her team are investigating the effect of contaminants on natural ecosystems; engineering new technologies to clean up industrial and agricultural waste; and designing leading-edge wastewater treatment systems that remove persistent contaminants using readily available, inexpensive materials.
Among Dr. Rodriguez-Freire’s innovations is the use of sound to break down dangerous compounds found in fire-fighting foams. She also has investigated arsenic biomineralization as a way to remediate arsenic-contaminated water, which poses a risk to the drinking water of hundreds of millions of people around the world.