CBEE Seminar: Dr. Wenqing Xu, Villanova University
Role of Pyrogenic Carbonaceous Matter (PCM) in Mediating Dehalogenation of Contaminants
Dr. Wenqing Xu
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Villanova University
Pyrogenic carbonaceous matter (PCM) includes biochar, fossil fuel soot, and activated carbon. These materials contact organic pollutants due to their widespread presence in the environment or through their use in various engineering applications. Although previous research has regarded PCM merely as passive sorbents, recent studies show that PCM can promote chemical reactions of sorbed contaminants at room temperatures, including long-range electron conduction between molecules and between microbes and molecules, local redox reactions between molecules, and hydrolysis. This talk covers recent research in Dr. Xu's group in understanding chemical reactions mediated by PCM and the links between these processes. The research lays the groundwork for developing an alternative in-situ remediation technique for rapidly decontaminating soils and sediments to lower toxic products under environmentally relevant conditions.
Dr. Wenqing Xu received a B.S. in Environmental Engineering (2007) from Nankai University in China and later a Master Degree in Geography and Environmental Engineering (2009) from Johns Hopkins University. After completing her Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University (2014), she joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova University as an Assistant Professor. She was a visiting professor at ETH-Zurich in Switzerland in 2017. In 2018, she was awarded an NSF-CAREER grant to understand the synergistic interactions between Pyrogenic Carbonaceous Matter (PCM) and sulfur species, with the ultimate goal of developing engineering solutions for contaminant detoxification. Dr. Xu is actively engaged in both research and teaching. Her research interests build upon the fundamental understanding of environmental interfacial chemistry, with the goal of applying them to both natural and engineered systems to address today's environmental challenges.