Research approach to teaching groundwater biodegradation in karst aquifers

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TSU in partnership with the USGS has conducted extensive research regarding biode??gradation of contaminants in karst aquifers. This research resulted in the development of a numerical approach to modeling biodegradation of contaminants in karst aquifers that is taught to environmental engineering students in several steps. First, environmental engineering students are taught chemical-reaction engineering principles relating to a wide variety of environmental fate and transport issues. Second, as part of TSU's engineering course curriculum, students use a non-ideal flow laboratory reactor system and run a tracer study to establish residence time distribution (RTD). Next, the students couple that formula to a first-order biodegradation rate and predict the removal of a biodegradable contaminant as a function of residence time. Following this, students are shown data collected from karst bedrock wells that suggest that karst aquifers are analogous to non-ideal flow reactors. The students are challenged to develop rates of biodegradation through lab studies and use their results to predict biodegradaton at an actual contaminated karst site. Field studies are also conducted to determine the accuracy of the students' predictions. This academic approach teaches biodegradation processes, rate-kinetic processes, hydraulic processes and numerical principles. The students are able to experience how chemical engineering principles can be applied to other situations, such as, modeling biodegradation of contaminants in karst aquifers. This paper provides background on the chemical engineering principles and karst issues used in the research-enhanced curriculum. ?? American Society for Engineering Education, 2006.
Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Research approach to teaching groundwater biodegradation in karst aquifers
Year Published 2006
Language English
Larger Work Title ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Conference Title 113th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2006
Conference Location Chicago, IL
Conference Date 18 June 2006 through 21 June 2006
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