Facilities

Photo: researcher conveying water resources analysis.

Environmental Sciences and Bioenvironmental Engineering Laboratories:

Soil Laboratory: The soil laboratory is equipped with balances, ovens, pH and electrical conductivity meters, hydrometers to measure particle size distributions manually and instruments to measure particle size distributions automatically. Also available are a set of sensors to measure water content and pressure potential in soil with data loggers to automatically record the results. In addition, the lab is equipped with two pressure extractors and automatic systems to measure water retention curves and saturated hydraulic conductivity, and with two types of tension infiltrometers that can be connected to data loggers for automatically quantifying water movement through unsaturated soils and sediments.

students in a laboratory

Unit Process Laboratories: The two process teaching laboratories have all necessary analytical facilities for characterizing and quantifying physical, chemical and biological processes in both natural and engineered systems. A Milli-Q water system provides the highest quality water for various analytical and process-oriented laboratories. There are two gas chromatography systems equipped with Flame Ionization or Electron Capture Detector and an autosampler. There is a high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) system and an ion chromatography system (with electrochemical suppression) which include an optional fraction collector for prep-scale LC work, including gel permeation chromatography and size-exclusion chromatography. The laboratories also house a UV-visible spectrophotometer.

For the chemical-physical unit process laboratory, a computer-controlled flow-through reactor system with multiple sensors allows demonstration and data acquisition of different physical and chemical processes in a plug flow reactor (PFR), a completely mixed flow reactor (CMFR), CMFRs in series, and other combined reactors commonly used in water and wastewater treatment. Two jar test systems allow students to learn physical and chemical principles governing particle-particle interactions and removal of colloids from water. Bench scale batch reactor systems and analytical instruments are available for characterizing chemical reactions, ion exchange, and adsorption processes. A supercritical CO2 extractor is used for demonstration of activated carbon regeneration in the physicochemical unit operation laboratory course and extraction of organic pollutants (e.g., PAHs and PCBs) from soil and sediment matrices in the environmental analytical chemistry course. Computer software packages for activated carbon adsorber design, air stripper design, and modeling of pollutant distributions among multi-media are available for the physicochemical unit process course.

For the biological unit process course, an assessment of water quality in a pond includes DO (field instrument), pH (field instrument), conductivity (field instrument), turbidity, biochemical oxygen demand, bacterial indicator plate counts and Hach Kit methods such as nutrient (phosphorus and nitrogen species) analysis. A module on anaerobic digestion process optimization is carried out in small-scale serum bottle reactors. COD removal is monitored using a Hach dichromate digestion method and methane production is tracked by gas chromatography. Nonlinear curve-fitting is used to parameterize a biokinetic model of the digestion process, which is then used for reactor design. A bioremediation project on aerobic transformation of gasoline in contaminated soil tracks changes in microbial populations by plating on selective media.

One of the two process teaching laboratory is fully equipped to carry out state-of-the-art microbiological and molecular analyses including high-quality, phase-contrast microscopes for enumeration and identification of microbes, a complete molecular-biology station including a 24-well thermo-cycler for PCR, gel electrophoresis apparatus, and a UV light box with camera for visualizing DNA.

Air Sampling and Analysis Laboratory: Air Sampling and Analysis Techniques Laboratory provides students with experience in ambient and indoor air sampling. Students learn how to use air flow rate and velocity measurement devices (i.e., wet test meter, dry gas meter, bubble calibrator, mass flow meter, rotameters, S-type and regular pitot tubes), particle samplers (i.e., Button inhalable aerosol sampler, IOM inhalable aerosol sampler, PM2.5 impactor, cyclone), particle measurement instruments (i.e., optical particle counter, condensation particle counter, aerosol mass photometer) and bioaerosol samplers (i.e., 1-stage Anderson impactor, 6-stage Anderson impactor, portable bioaerosol sampler). Students also learn how to analyze gases using Draeger tubes and other equipment, such as ozone meters. The exercises are regularly updated to reflect changes in the field.

Instructional Computing Facilities:

Computing facilities are available at the university, school, and departmental levels. The Department of Environmental Sciences also maintains its own computer laboratories that provide specialized software for the use of its students and faculty. All facilities are connected to RUNet via the high-speed Rutgers backbone.

The Department of Environmental Sciences computer laboratory has 21 Dell computers with internet accesses, a laser printer, and a color poster printer, which allows students to print their posters for design projects and other undergraduate research activities. The Department of Environmental Sciences has access to licenses for ArcGIS, AutoCAD and MATLAB. The Bioenvironmental Engineering students have also access to the computer resources in the School of Engineering.