Research Stories from the MnDRIVE Environment Initiative
With funding from a MnDRIVE Environment Demonstration Grant, UMN researcher Roger Ruan makes the most of manure.
Where others see waste, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering professor Roger Ruan sees opportunity—in this case, repurposing wastewater from livestock operations to extract economic value and address a potential environmental threat from one of Minnesota’s largest industries: hog farming.
In 2022, I had the opportunity to spend the summer traveling in Morocco as part of the Undergraduate Research Study Abroad program through the University of Minnesota Duluth, where my research focused on attitudes toward climate change and the role of science communication in mobilizing public support for climate policy.
With seed funding from the MnDRIVE Environment Program, UMN researcher Christy Haynes seeks to address forever chemicals using an unconventional duo: industrial hemp and nanotechnology.
The Soudan Mine, not far from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, was once a rich source of iron. When it ceased operation in 1962, however, residue from toxic metals lingered in wastewater surrounding the mine. Left untreated, these toxins threatened the ecosystems and natural resources vital to the Northland economy, culture, and identity.
From brushing our teeth to putting our head on the pillow at night, plastics are part of everything we do. But they also have serious downsides and their durability means they pollute land, water, and—in minute quantities—even the insides of our bodies.
Art installation at the Fulton brewery taproom sheds light on MnDRIVE sponsored sustainable wastewater treatment research.
UMN researchers study how bacteria can contribute to safer drinking water.
MnDRIVE brings industry and regulators together to weigh costs, benefits, solutions.
Waterproof, nonstick and flame retardant. Products like raincoats, frying pans and firefighting foam keep us safe, clean and comfortable. Their durability stems from the presence of carbon-fluorine bonds, which are some of the strongest in organic chemistry. Unexpectedly, these great modern conveniences have also created a widespread environmental problem. Compounds with multiple carbon-fluorine bonds, called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances), have accumulated for decades in the environment with no effective way to break down these “forever chemicals.”
With support from the MnDRIVE Environment Initiative, doctoral candidate Laura Bender harnesses the power of soil fungi to help plants absorb pollutants.
MnDRIVE-funded researcher harvests natural gas from brewery wastewater
When you turn on the faucet, you probably trust the water in your glass will be safe to drink. For Minnesotans living in the eastern Twin Cities, this trust evaporated when toxic PFAS chemicals (or per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) infiltrated their groundwater. PFAS are found in many products, ranging from nonstick cookware and food packaging to waterproof clothing. Despite their ubiquity, scientists suspect high concentrations of the chemicals lead to cancer, obesity, and other health problems. 3M formerly manufactured PFAS at its Cottage Grove facility, which caused the east metro contamination. Now the chemicals are threatening drinking water for Minnesotans across the state.
Enzyme-based coatings developed at the University of Minnesota help protect port infrastructure by disrupting the signals underwater bacteria use to communicate.
Every day, Second Harvest Heartland gathers more than 100 tons of food from donors across Minnesota and western Wisconsin and redistributes it to food shelves and others who serve people in need. In the process, the food bank—the second largest in the U.S.—ends up with some 3 tons of bad cabbage, spoiled milk, too-old-to-eat cereal and other “unfit for consumption” bits and pieces left over from this process.
UMN researcher Dr. Brandy Stewart studies carbon-rich peat to filter harmful metals from wastewater.
University of Minnesota researchers develop novel bioactive coating to protect valuable port infrastructure.
UMN researcher in the Elias Lab searches for clues to bacterial communication.
University of Minnesota researchers pair plants with microbes to remove arsenic from contaminated soils.
Manganese is an essential micronutrient present in Minnesota’s groundwater, but in some areas, especially the southwestern part of the state, manganese levels are high enough to raise health concerns. Over time, at high concentrations, the metal can accumulate in the brain and result in neurological conditions among older adults.
UMN researchers investigate nutrient recycling to mitigate the impact of agricultural runoff and carbon emissions.
MnDRIVE investigators are developing distributed wastewater treatments that transform carbon waste into clean electricity.
BTI researchers look to replicate plant disease suppression by understanding microbialcommunities in the soil.
MnDRIVE sponsored research from civil, environmental, and geo- engineering Professors Paige Novak (BTI) and Bill Arnold and post doctoral researcher David Tan (BTI) is featured on the cover of a prominent environmental journal.
MnDRIVE researcher looks to Minnesota’s Iron Range for microbial components of sulfide mineral oxidation and sulfate remediation.
Conditions in southern Minnesota streams have deteriorated, and UMN senior Katie Kemmitt hopes to find out why.