OK NSF EPSCoR Awards Two Seed Grants through the S3OK Project

The Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR program through the NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Track-1 project “Socially Sustainable Solutions for Water, Carbon, and Infrastructure Resilience in Oklahoma” (S3OK) has awarded two seed grants aimed at developing and testing science-based solutions for complex “wicked” problems at the intersection of land use, water availability, and infrastructure in OK. Seed Funding is available at up to $75,000 per award. The Seed Grant recipients are:

  • Drs. Seokjhin Kim (Oklahoma State University, OSU), David McIlroy (OSU), and Kenneth Vaughan, University of Central Oklahoma (UCO)
  • Flow-Through Solar Evaporation Systems for Produced Water Reuse
    This project aims to develop novel, energy-efficient solar-energy-combined desalination systems for treating produced water (PW) to levels suitable for reuse. Primarily, this project will focus on scientific investigation of an energy-efficient solar-energy-combined desalination system for PW treatment. Specifically, the project will a) synthesize ceramic membranes for organics and oil rejection; b) develop solar evaporation and condensation system for oil and salt removal; c) incorporate outputs of a and b objectives into a flow-through desalination system and determine the efficiency of said system and develop scientific models of mass transport, thermal management, and surface chemistry of membranes, and d) investigate public attitudes toward water reuse. The expected outcomes of this project are to increase our scientific understanding of the efficacy of ceramic membranes and solar evaporation for PW and use this knowledge to enhance water supplies and reduce operational costs, energy consumption, and environmental impacts of PW management. 

  • Drs. Tingying Xu (Oklahoma State University, OSU), and Rio C. Lirag (Cameron University)
  • Fungi-assisted Bioremediation and Selective Recovery of Multiple Metals from Marginal-quality Groundwaters
    The goal of this research is to explore the ability of different native Mn-oxidizing fungi from Oklahoma to simultaneously remove multiple heavy metals (Mn, Pb, Zn, and Ni) from impacted waters with distinct water chemistry (i.e., normal and extreme hardness, low and high salinity), and to develop a laboratory scale bioreactor using these microorganisms. The research team specifically seek to a) identify fungi candidates from metal-rich waters in Oklahoma that can promote biomineral formation of Mn oxides, b) identify the key fungal species and most effective metal removal pathways (sorption and/or biomineral formation) in batch laboratory experiments, and c) build and operate laboratory scale reactors to optimize metal removal from complex, metal-rich waters; selectively recover captured metals. Results of this project will provide information for an efficient and cost-effective bioremediation system design using native fungi or fungal communities directly isolated from the contaminated waters in Oklahoma to mitigate multiple metal contaminants in the system. 

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Funding for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OIA-1946093 through OK NSF EPSCoR.