Sierra Castaneda ’20


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project Title

Methane Emissions from Wastewater Treatment Plants: Implications for Resource Recovery and Climate Mitigation

Presentation Link

View Sierra's Presentation

Certificate(s): Environmental Studies

I took measurements of greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide in and around wastewater treatment plants throughout
New Jersey using the Princeton Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (PACE), a vehicle equipped with trace-gas and meteorological sensors. Concentration profiles downwind of the plants were incorporated into a Gaussian plume-dispersion model to predict emission rates of these trace gases and estimate uncertainties. Because downwind trace-gas profiles are extremely variable due to atmospheric turbulence, repeated transects were conducted over a range of meteorological conditions. I investigated the use of an aerial source dispersion model to more accurately calculate emissions from tanks and other distribution sources. Quantifying emissions can inform the regulation of trace gases that impact air quality and climate, and can be useful to wastewater treatment plants in resource recovery, such as capturing methane. I gained problem-solving skills, experience collecting field data, and data-processing skills in MATLAB that were extremely valuable as I expand on these preliminary results for my senior thesis.


Internship Year


Project Category

Urban Adaptation and Resiliency


Atmospheric Chemistry and Composition Group, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


Mark Zondlo, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering