Engineering faculty get more than $880,000 in NET grants

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Seven engineering faculty projects have earned more than $880,000 in 2018 Nebraska Environmental Trust grants.
Seven engineering faculty projects have earned more than $880,000 in 2018 Nebraska Environmental Trust grants.


More than $880,000 has been granted by the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 2018 to engineering faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for seven projects that will help preserve, protect and restore the state’s natural resources. 

These include five new projects and two being funded for a third year. These projects are among 105 in the state receiving $18,301,819 in grant awards from the Trust this year – 66 are new applications and 39 are carry-over projects.

The new engineering projects receiving NET funding are:

* Introducing a biocidal treatment module for reverse osmosis (RO) filtering membranes that utilizes biocidal copper coatings to develop a preventative method for sustaining a clean water supply in Nebraska. This project involves two chemical and biomolecular engineering faculty – Siamak Nejati, assistant professor, and Mona Bavarian, adjunct faculty.

* Reducing gas emissions from landfills through use of an interim cover that includes co-extruded polymeric geomembranes. Jongwan Eun, assistant professor of civil engineering, is working on this project.

* Demonstrating a new economical approach for managing nitrate losses and improving groundwater quality that provides both economic and environmental benefits. This new deep subsoil treatment, which would be applicable to a variety of crop systems, is a project of Chittaranjan Ray, professor of civil engineering, and Amy Schmidt, assistant professor of biological systems engineering.

* Transforming manure and Eastern red cedar into a product that Nebraska farmers could use as a mulch to increase farm profitability, reduce nutrient losses and reduce encroachment of Eastern red cedar. This project includes biological systems engineering faculty Richard Koelsch, professor, and Amy Schmidt, assistant professor.

* Developing a product made from keratin fibers found in poultry feathers and protein fibers in wool. This product is created by Yiqi Yang, professor of biological systems engineering and textiles, clothing and fashion design.

The two carry-over projects involving engineering faculty are:

* Integrating GIS mapping and a database to create a vadose zone – which acts like a “skin” of the earth – that help keep nitrate concentrations, pesticides, metals and other contaminants out of Nebraska’s ground water supply. Chittaranjan Ray, professor of civil engineering, works on this project, which was first funded in 2016.

* Assessing the quality of drinking water in rural domestic wells through a “crowd-sourced” study in which high school agricultural education programs and FFA chapters conduct water sampling. Results of the testing are entered in a customized mobile app and analyzed via a university server. Ashok Samal, professor of computer science and engineering, works on this project, which was initially funded in 2016. 

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $289 million in grants to over 2,000 projects across the state. 

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