Adsorption of Emerging Organic Contaminants on Clay Surfaces

2016 Faculty Research Award

Award Period: 2016-2018

Ian Bourg, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute, and Satish Myneni, professor of geosciences, will investigate the absorption of organic contaminants into clay mineral surfaces. Organic contaminants such as pesticides, antibiotics and flame-retardants are of critical environmental concern. The affinity of these chemicals for clay-rich soils impacts their persistence in the environment and thus their long-term effects on water quality. This project will combine molecular-dynamics simulations with laboratory adsorption experiments and chemical modeling to improve our understanding of how different organic contaminants interact with clay surfaces in a variety of environmental conditions.

Educational Impacts

The two-year project will involve mentoring and training undergraduate students, particularly two senior-thesis students (one per year) and two PEI summer interns (one per year). Undergraduate students will be invited to present their research from this project at the annual spring or fall meeting of the American Chemical Society. Results from the project also will be incorporated into the undergraduate course “Introduction to Environmental Engineering” (CEE 207) taught by Bourg, which includes several lectures on the partitioning of organic contaminants between various phases.

Participating Department


Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Princeton Environmental Institute
Professor of Geosciences