Professor, School of Engineering
Dr. Kurt Pennell recently moved to Brown University as a Professor in the School of Engineering. Previously, Dr. Pennell was Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University, and the Bernard M. Gordon Senior Faculty Fellow in Environmental Engineering. Prior to moving to Tufts, Dr. Pennell was a Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and held an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Neurology at the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Pennell’s research addresses three main areas; soil and groundwater remediation, engineered nanomaterial fate and transport, and environmental toxicology. His current research focuses on in situ remediation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), environmental exposure metabolomics, and the use of engineered nanomaterials for subsurface characterization. Dr. Pennell has published over 150 referred journal articles and book chapters, is a registered Professional Engineer (PE), a Board Certified Environmental Engineer (BCEE), and a Fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). His work has received numerous awards, including the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Project of the Year in Environmental Restoration (2006, 2012).
In Situ Sequestration of Per and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) from Contaminated Groundwater
Due to their low volatility and the strength of carbon-fluorine bonds, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are not amenable to conventional in situ remediation technologies such as soil vapor extraction, thermal treatment, air sparging, chemical oxidation and bioremediation. To address this issue, we have developed an in situ sequestration technology that incorporates delivery of polymer(PolyDADMAC)-stabilized powdered activated carbon (DARCO® 100 mesh) in water-saturated porous media, where the retained polymer and activated carbon serve to adsorb PFAS from contaminated groundwater. Results obtained from batch reactor and column experiments indicated an adsorption capacity of greater than 300 mg/g, and a breakthrough time of greater than 7,000 pore volumes at an injection concentration of 50 ug/L, respectively. Subsequent experiments, conducted in a 40 cm (height) x 60 cm (length) aquifer cell, yielded similar sequestration capacities in a three-dimensional, heterogeneous domain. These findings demonstrate the potential of polymer-stabilized activated carbon to mitigate PFAS plume migration.