Georgia State University Assistant Professor Nadine Kabengi and her team have been awarded a $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science to support research into the way some environmental contaminants may “stick” to certain metal oxides.
Kabengi was one of 35 scientists to receive an Early Career Research Program award from the DOE.
“Understanding how these oxides behave under different chemical and temperature conditions will inform and guide our efforts to clean our soil and water,” said Kabengi. “It will help us assess the effect of energy-related activities on our Earth and geological materials.”
Kabengi specializes in the science of measuring the heat changes of chemical reactions, known as calorimetry. By measuring these changes in reactions between environmental contaminants and certain metal oxides, she can predict whether an oxide could be used to clean soil and water.
The machine Kabengi and her team will be using, a flow adsorption microcalorimeter, was designed by her Ph.D. adviser at the University of Florida, Dean Rhue. Kabengi will be designing two new models, which will allow the machine to operate in a wider range of conditions.
Much of Kabengi’s work will involve testing existing hypotheses for the first time.
“Most of the data we use are either based on pure theory or comes from computational models,” she said. “We’ll be collecting experimental data that doesn’t exist in the field.”
Kabengi hopes that this award can help start calorimetric studies at Georgia State.
“I’m hoping to expand the research into other departments,” she said. “I hope this can be a launching pad to get people excited about adsorption calorimetry and its many applications.”
Kabengi is an assistant professor in the departments of geoscience and chemistry. Her research group will be joined this July by S. Adrian Gale, a postdoctoral fellow and recent graduate of the University of Florida’s environmental engineering sciences program, and this fall by recent Georgia State geology graduate Tyler Hawkins. At least two additional graduate students and several undergraduates are expected to join the group during its five-year, grant-funded period.