Environmental Engineering

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Environmental Management Research Laboratory (EMRL
 
Establishment and Management of Green Residential Complex
EMRL develops an integrated management system for resuscitation of urban environments to facilitate recycling and reuse of water, solid wastes and energy. The ultimate goal is to devise a systematic approach to enhance urban sustainability.
 
 
On-Site Resource Recovery System for Organic Wastes and Wastewater
Green Box, the on-site resource recovery technique utilizing urban resuscitation technique, enables in situ treatment of organic wastes such as food wastes and wastewater. Furthermore, this technique allows for in situ resource recovery for generation of renewable energy, e.g., biogas and electricity, and production of heavy water and fertilizers.
 
 
On-Site Resource Recovery System for Organic Wastes and Wastewater
KAIST Institute for Disaster Studies (KIDS) was recently established as a collective university-wide effort to conduct research on prevention and management of various natural and anthropogenic disasters. KIDS aims to establish life-cycle based/ social science based/ preventive approaches to address various potential disasters
 
 
Water Resources Management System
The goal of EMRL is to minimize the uncertainties in water supply systems and water resources management. EMRL develops a life-cycle based water resource management system encompassing prediction and monitoring of hydrology and water quality and operation of water and wastewater treatment facilities. 
 
 
Sustainable Water Environment and Energy Technology Laboratory (SWEET)
 
Understanding Interactions at the Nano-scale During Microbial Cell Attachment
The formation of biofilms (or biofouling) on natural or engineered systems is one of the most challenging problems in the operation of environmental infrastructures. Despite the paramount importance of isolating ways to prevent biofouling, there have been only a few studies. The experimental approach will combine novel analytical tools from the fields of colloid/interfacial science and molecular microbiology. Specifically, a rapid and efficient evaluation method of biofouling potential, created by combining two independent techniques interfacial force measurement by AFM and direct observation technique of biofouling for various systems will be develop.
 
 
Fate and Transport of Nanomaterials in Aquatic Systems
There is a wide debate about the risks and benefits of the many manufactured nanomaterials that are inevitably released into our environment. The risk of these nanomaterials to human health and the environment calls for a systematic study on the fate and transport of these nanomaterials in the aquatic environment. The objective is to understand the interactions between nanomaterials and the aquatic environment. Specifically, the ecotoxicological effects of nanomaterials will be focused at various environmental conditions. The effect of many abiotic factors such as pH, ionic strength, and the presence of organic matter will be systematically investigated as a part of ecotoxicological studies.
 
 
Development of water treatment system using carbon based nanomaterials
Current advances in nanotechnology provide us with the opportunity to develop carbon based conductive materials The research is focused on fabrication of conductive membrane system with high selectivity and permeability, as well as less fouling potential. Especially, our scope covers electrochemical water treatment system including degradation of micro-pollutant, concentration and desalination of salt water, recovery of precious metals, interactions between nanomaterials and organic matters/microorganisms.
 
 
Membrane Process for Sustainable Water Production
Any sustainable development would be limited by the amount of water production in the near future. Membrane processes can be used for desalination, water reuse, and water treatment to expand the source of water. During the development of membrane processes, we investigate the fouling mechanisms of membranes by inorganic, organic, and biological constituents in source waters to suggest strategies to minimize fouling. Specifically, we mainly focus on the RO (reverse osmosis), FO (forward osmosis), and UF (ultra-filtration) membrane processes.
 
 
Environmental Biotechnology and Bioenergy Laborato
 
Pretreatment and consolidated-bio-processing for cellulosic bioethanol
Bioethanol from cellulosic biomass is one of the most promising renewable alternatives that could significantly reduce national dependence on imported oil, revitalize rural economies, and decrease the environmental impacts of energy use. Unfortunately, due to the toughness and structural complexity of cellulosic materials, enzymatic and microbial attack has been a bottleneck of the commercialization of biomass-based fuels. To overcome this technical difficulty, EBTEL is developing a more effective pretreatment process and devising a bioprocess consolidating saccharification and fermentation.

http://ebtel.kaist.ac.kr/
 
 
Biodiesel production using heterotrophic microbes
Due to the steep increase in the crude oil prices, renewable resources, especially biofuels, are drawing more and more interest as the replacement for fossil fuels. Currently, commercial biodiesel is produced from vegetable oils from soybeans, corns, rapeseeds, and palms or microorganisms; however, increased production of vegetable oils may lead to destruction of ecosystems and food shortage. Therefore, microalgae and oleaginous yeasts are widely researched as the alternative biodiesel source of the future. EBTEL is conducting research to find low-cost substrates for oleaginous yeasts and their pretreatment method for production of biodiesel. Also, EBTEL is developing processes to harvest energy from microalgae cultured with wastewater.
 
 
Microalgae Harvesting Technique Using Membrane Bioreactor
A harvesting technique that can concentrate the microalgae is necessary for production of biofuels from microalgae. Cross-flow membrane filtering system has higher efficiency than previous harvesting methods and has less susceptible to membrane fouling. In the cross-flow membrane bioreactor, the increase in the shear force on the membrane surface reduced membrane fouling, albeit not completely. EBTEL is developing additional methods to control membrane fouling through chemical improvement of the membrane surface, fabrication of membranes with resistance to fouling, and alteration of hydrodynamic properties, etc.
 
 
Integrated Electrochemical Process for Mitigation of atmospheric pollutants and Resource Recovery

Nitrogen oxides and hydrogen sulfides are notorious atmospheric pollutants, which cause acidic rain, destruction of the ozone layer and photochemical smog. These compounds are also toxic and corrosive. EBTEL is developing a fuel cell system that can selectively adsorb and desorb nitric oxide and transform the nitric oxide to nitric acid, while generating electricity. EBTEL is also developing fuel cell system to remove H2S through chemical oxidation using heteropoly acid.

 
 
Mitigation of carbon dioxide in the exhaust fume and transformation to useful materials

Carbon dioxide is the most influential greenhouse gas that is the major cause of climate change and associated changes to the environment. EBTEL is conducting research to transform carbon dioxide to useful materials through mineralization. Using alkali materials as effective absorbents of carbon dioxide, EBTEL is developing an electroosmosis process that can transform carbon dioxide to carbonic acid and biocarbonate, which subsequently are used to produce chemicals with beneficial properties.