Primary Investigator: Joe Magner
Co-Investigators: Bridget Ulrich, John Chapman
Industry Partners:  Mississippi Watershed Management Organization; Young Environmental Consulting Group, LLC. 
Award Type: Seed Grant – Postdoctoral Research Scholar

Problem: Minneapolis, like many metropolitan areas, faces considerable challenges in managing stormwater runoff. Impermeable roadways, sidewalks, and parking lots concentrate and channel contaminants like heavy metals, salts, and pesticides. These contaminants end up in local waterways, soils, and in some cases drinking water wells. Management and treatment of impaired water is challenging and costly, given the variety and concentration of potential and emerging pollutants.

Solution: Biochar, a charcoal-like material derived from renewable waste streams such as wood debris and nut shells, has the potential to treat a wide range of metal, microbial, and organic contaminants. Project investigators will expand lab testing of biochar’s filtration capacity by simulating specific regional conditions and using locally produced biochar in experiments. Results from this lab-based study should identify where this filtration system can be tested at scale under actual field conditions.

Impact: Biochar-based water filtration systems stand to offer a dynamic and sustainable remediation system for the removal of various contaminants. This low-cost treatment solution may offer significant assistance in managing urban and rural stormwater runoff challenges. It may also prove to be adaptable for other specific applications, like retention and treatment of construction site soil.

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