Veronica L. Morales

2019 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
UC Davis

Project Title: Pore-Structural Features of Aquifers That Control Spreading of Engineered Nanoparticles in Groundwater

Project Description: Despite concerns about human and environmental health, little is known about how engineered nanomaterials spread and contaminate groundwater aquifers.  Intricate pore-spaces of aquifer media create complex flow dynamics that encumber predictions of contaminant transport and filtration.  This project will study the pore-structural features of aquifers that control their ability to filter out nanomaterials from groundwater.  The novel experimental approach uses detailed aquifer models fashioned from volumetric images of real rock/soil samples and 3D printing.  3D printed aquifer models will, for the first time, permit systematic testing of the combined chemical (known) and structural (unknown) factors that affect nanoparticle transport.