The Envirochemical Engineering group includes Professors Neil Donahue and Spyros Pandis and Assistant Professor Meagan Mauter, as well as approximately fifteen graduate students and researchers. Together with the groups lead by Prof. Cliff Davidson (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Allen Robinson (Mechanical Eng.) they comprise the Carnegie Mellon Air Quality Engineering research team.
Emissions of gases and particles by industrial and other anthropogenic sources result in increased levels of a variety of atmospheric pollutants. These species often have adverse effects on human health, ecosystems, materials, and climate. Our program in the envirochemical area focuses on improving our understanding of atmospheric pollution and on developing the tools needed to reduce potentially harmful constituents in the air. The primary emphasis is on using an integrated approach to solve air quality problems, considering source emissions, atmospheric transport and chemistry and the ultimate removal of the pollutants from the atmosphere by deposition. The group is currently working on problems ranging from smog formation in large urban centers to global climate change.
One area of research involves the development of detailed state-of-the-art computer models describing various components of the atmospheric system as pollutants move from sources to receptors. Another area involves carefully controlled laboratory studies to study fundamental processes related to the formation of pollutants and their properties. The new Carnegie Mellon Air Quality Laboratory located in the Chemical Engineering Department is a state-of-the-art facility including two clean rooms, an indoor smog chamber, a variety of flow reactors, an analytical chemistry section, ultrafine aerosol instrumentation, etc. Additional resources include a wind tunnel and a source-testing laboratory. The air quality program also includes field studies at locations ranging from congested urban centers to remote areas of the world. All of this information and tools are used for the development of cost-effective emission controls for the reduction of damages caused by atmospheric pollution.
Airborne particulate matter (PM) continues to pose serious health risks of susceptible members of the U.S. population and for sensitive ecosystems. Design of cost-effective PM control strategies is limited by the lack of understanding of the PM-health effects links which is exacerbated by a paucity of physiological data, the difficulty of establishing the PM source-receptor relationships, and finally the limitations of existing instrumentation for PM measurements. The CMU Air Quality team, with funding by EPA and DOE, has established a PM research center for the comprehensive multidisciplinary study of the above issues. The center includes investigators from twelve universities, two national laboratories, and a number of private companies.