Research Stories from the MnDRIVE Environment Initiative
Minnesota’s Fantastic Fungi
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.
Beyond bottles: Addressing the Challenge of Forgotten Plastics
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.
Harnessing Microbes for Better Health
UMN researchers study how bacteria can contribute to safer drinking water.
Is PFAS a Problem in Municipal Compost?
MnDRIVE brings industry and regulators together to weigh costs, benefits, solutions.
An End in Sight for “Forever Chemicals”
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.”
Fighting Farmland Pollution with Fungi
With support from the MnDRIVE Environment Initiative, doctoral candidate Laura Bender harnesses the power of soil fungi to help plants absorb pollutants.
Clean Energy from Beer Waste?
MnDRIVE-funded researcher harvests natural gas from brewery wastewater
Stopping PFAS in Its Tracks
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.
Signal and Noise
Enzyme-based coatings developed at the University of Minnesota help protect port infrastructure by disrupting the signals underwater bacteria use to communicate.
Making the Best of the Rest
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.
The Promise of Peat
UMN researcher Dr. Brandy Stewart studies carbon-rich peat to filter harmful metals from wastewater.
Battling Biocorrosion in Duluth-Superior Harbor
University of Minnesota researchers develop novel bioactive coating to protect valuable port infrastructure.
Breaking the Code
UMN researcher in the Elias Lab searches for clues to bacterial communication.
Plant Microbe Match
University of Minnesota researchers pair plants with microbes to remove arsenic from contaminated soils.
Managing Manganese with Microbes
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.
Fertilizer of the Future
UMN researchers investigate nutrient recycling to mitigate the impact of agricultural runoff and carbon emissions.
Electrifying Opportunities from Beer Waste
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 Research Helps Bacteria Clean our Water Resources
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.
Rocking the Duluth Complex
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.