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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 17, 2004

Engineering Researcher Receives $475,000 Federal Grant

Michelle Scherer, associate professor in the University of Iowa College of Engineering Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received a two-year, $475,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) to evaluate methods for cleaning up certain environmental contaminants, including solvents used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing.

The high cost and relative ineffectiveness of conventional treatments has inspired a move toward the use of chemical (or abiotic) methods. Scherer notes that although there is some evidence that laboratory synthesized minerals can transform the solvents tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE), it is unclear whether this transformation process is likely to be sufficiently sustainable under field conditions to impact PCE and TCE groundwater pollution.

Scherer, project principal investigator, says, "The results from this work are relevant to the Department of Defense's mission to achieve more efficient and effective environmental remediation of soil and groundwater at Department of Defense and Department of Energy sites. Our goal is to assess the likely importance of abiotic transformation of PCE and TCE under field conditions."

Scherer's colleagues on the project are: Craig Just, Gene Parkin and Richard Valentine, all of the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; E.J. O'Loughlin of Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill.; and Pedro Alvarez of Rice University.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,