I am an environmental engineer working within the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus. My research addresses waste and wastewater treatment challenges, resource recovery, reutilization, and maximizing the production of renewable energy. My research is focused on an integrated approach through the use of two technologies: 1) anaerobic digestion (AD) that simultaneously treats wastewater, converts it to renewable energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions; and 2) electrochemical systems that convert organic material to energy in the form of electricity or hydrogen gas using microbial fuel cells (MFC) and microbial electrolysis cells (MEC). My recent AD research has focused on increasing the efficiency of AD systems in a cold climate by using solar energy and on increasing the quantity and quality of biogas by incorporating microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) into AD systems.
Currently, as an assistant research scientist, I am evaluating and analyzing the operation, performance, and sustainability of an AD processing poultry litter combined with a nutrient capture system. This system can partition nutrients from system by-products to increase the options and flexibility for managing nutrients, thereby reducing potential nutrient run-off into local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, I also worked with Dr. Lansing to apply for a Maryland agricultural experiment station competitive grants program, which we successfully received. In this study, I work on evaluating the effect of nanoparticles (NPs) additions on increasing the viability of poultry litter AD, which include determining the most effective concentration of NP additives to increase methane production, tracking NP degradation during digestion, and uptake of NPs by crops in a lab-scale hydroponic system when the digested bio-slurry is used to fertilize the crops. The results showed an increase in CH4 production in all AD vessels treated with NPs compared to poultry litter without NPs. This work will improve our understanding of using NPs in biogas digester and open a new research platform in the AD research area.
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