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Category: Publications: Environmental Laboratory (EL)
  • USACE Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Research and Development Initiative

    Abstract: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) represent a significant and costly threat to our nation’s economy and natural resources. This report outlines the US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center’s (USACE-ERDC’s) approach to deliver scalable technologies for prevention, early detection, and management of HABs to reduce HAB event frequency, severity, and duration.
  • Framework Development for Rapid Assessment and Economic Valuation of Feral Swine Damage to Wetland Terrain: A Pilot Study at US Army Corps of Engineers–Somerville Lake, Texas

    Abstract: The increased spread and presence of feral swine on sensitive natural resources landscapes like wetlands has become a considerable concern on lands managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. In August 2021 a pilot study was carried out at Somerville Lake, Texas, as the first step in a three-year research plan to develop an ecological-economic framework for feral swine damage assessments (FSDA) and valuation. The study sought to quantify and value soil disturbance caused by feral swine trampling, rooting, and wallowing on wetland soils. The primary objective—to develop and test a rapid FSDA prototype—was achieved and represents an important first step to creating a quick and user-friendly damage-assessment framework that also estimates the economic value of the damage observed. With continued testing and development, this rapid FSDA protocol will be of use to all who manage feral swine impacts on landscapes with wetland ecosystems, and findings from this information will be of use for scientifically informed cost-benefit analysis and management decision-making.
  • Considerations for Integrating Ecological and Hydrogeomorphic Models: Developing a Comprehensive Marsh Vegetation Model

    PURPOSE: Predictive models for salt marsh management require a systems perspective that recognizes the dynamic interactions between physical and ecological processes. It is critical to link physical process and landscape evolution models to quantify hydro-eco-geomorphic feedbacks in marsh environments. A framework that explicitly defines how to integrate these disparate models is a necessary step towards developing a comprehensive marsh model. This technical note (TN) proposes an approach to integrate existing hydrodynamic and geomorphic models with a mechanistic vegetation model into a coupled framework to better simulate salt marsh evolution.
  • Classifying and Benchmarking High-Entropy Alloys and Associated Materials for Electrocatalysis: A Brief Review of Best Practices

    Abstract: In light of the immense compositional diversity of high-entropy materials (HEMs) recently reported (e.g., high-entropy chalcogenides, perovskites, ceramics, etc.) and the relatively amorphous definition of High-Entropy, it is imperative that consistent material classification and benchmarking practices be employed to facilitate comparison between reported figures of merit. In this opinion, an updated form of the numerical high entropy definition is reviewed, which renders a universal entropy metric applicable to high-entropy alloys and emerging HEMs alike. Analytical methods to verify the existence of a solid-solution microstructure, elucidate atomic valence states, and probe atomic disorder are discussed with literature examples to facilitate the physical classification of HEMs. Electrocatalytic benchmarking is discussed in the context of water splitting reactions and best practices are reviewed for determining the electrocatalytically active surface area, reaction overpotential, and electrocatalyst stability.
  • Scaled-Up Synthesis of Water-Retaining Alginate-Based Hydrogel

    Purpose: Synthesis of a scaled-up version of a lithium-ion-based alginate/poly(acrylamide-co-stearyl methacrylate) [Li-alginate/P(AAm-co-SMA)] hydrogel with several optimizations for thermal signature investigations on various environmental substrates.
  • Assessing Differences in the Wetland Functional Capacity of Wet Pine Flatwood Compensatory Mitigation Sites Managed with Prescribed Fire and Mechanical Mowing

    Abstract: This report assesses the functional capacity of wet pine flatwood wetland habitats in the Gulf Coastal region of the United States, with a specific focus on compensatory mitigation sites maintained using mowing or prescribed fire, or both, as understory management strategies. The use of mowing in lieu of prescribed fire treatments has been proposed for a variety of reasons, including when mitigation sites are located near residential areas or where fires pose a risk to private property and public safety. This study evaluates the effects of mechanized mowing on ecosystem functions by using the hydrogeomorphic (HGM) wetland functional-assessment method to compare mitigation sites managed by mowing to sites managed by prescribed-fire regimes. Assessing mowing as a vegetation-control strategy in lieu of prescribed-fire regimes provides valuable information that can improve the design and management of wet pine flatwoods mitigation sites throughout portions of the southeastern United States, where this wetland class occurs.
  • Radio Frequency Heating of Washable Conductive Textiles for Bacteria and Virus Inactivation

    Abstract: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the use of single-use medical fabrics such as surgical masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), which have faced worldwide supply chain shortages. Reusable PPE is desirable in light of such shortages; however, the use of reusable PPE is largely restricted by the difficulty of rapid sterilization. In this work, we demonstrate successful bacterial and viral inactivation through remote and rapid radio frequency (RF) heating of conductive textiles. The RF heating behavior of conductive polymer-coated fabrics was measured for several different fabrics and coating compositions. Next, to determine the robustness and repeatability of this heating response, we investigated the textile’s RF heating response after multiple detergent washes. Finally, we show a rapid reduction of bacteria and virus by RF heating our conductive fabric. 99.9% of methicillin¬resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was removed from our conductive fabrics after only 10 min of RF heating; human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) was completely sterilized after 5 min of RF heating. These results demonstrate that RF heating conductive polymer-coated fabrics offer new opportunities for applications of conductive textiles in the medical and/or electronic fields.
  • Influence of Chemical Coatings on Solar Panel Performance Snow Accumulation

    Abstract: Solar panel performance can be impacted when panel surfaces are coated with substances like dust, dirt, snow, or ice that scatter and/or absorb light and may reduce efficiency. As a consequence, time and resources are required to clean solar panels during and after extreme weather events or whenever surface coating occurs. Treating solar panels with chemical coatings that shed materials may decrease the operating costs associated with solar panel maintenance and cleaning. This study investigates three commercial coatings for use as self-cleaning glass technologies. Optical and thermal properties (reflectivity, absorption, and transmission) are investigated for each coating as well as their surface wettability and particle size. Incoming solar radiation was continuously monitored and snow events were logged to estimate power production capabilities and surface accumulation for each panel. In terms of power output, the commercial coatings made little impact on overall power production compared to the control (uncoated) panels. This was attributable to the overall high transmission, low absorption, and low reflection of each of the commercial coatings, making their presence on the surface of solar panels have minimal impact besides to potentially shed snow While the coatings made no observable difference to increase power production compared to the control panels, the shedding results from video monitoring suggest both the hydrophilic or hydrophobic test coatings decreased snow accumulation to a greater extent than the control panels (uncoated). Controlling the wettability properties of the solar panel surfaces has the potential to limit snow accumulation when compared to uncoated panel surfaces.
  • Investigation of Steam Adsorption Chillers to Modernize Existing Central Steam Plant Systems

    Abstract: This report investigates the integration of steam adsorption chillers as a modernization strategy for conventional central steam plant systems. Our objective is to assess the feasibility, advantages, and challenges of incorporating steam adsorption chillers into existing steam plant setups to enhance energy efficiency and cooling capabilities. Central steam plant systems have historically been used for steam-based heating but often lack cooling capabilities, necessitating additional cooling infrastructure. Steam adsorption chillers offer a potential solution by using waste steam for cooling, optimizing energy utilization and reducing reliance on traditional cooling methods. Through a comprehensive analysis, this report evaluates the technical compatibility and potential cost implications of implementing steam adsorption chillers. It explores factors such as system integration, operational dynamics, and maintenance requirements to provide a holistic view of the feasibility and benefits of this modernization approach. The findings aim to offer valuable insights to decision-makers and Army facility managers seeking innovative ways to upgrade central steam plant systems. By considering the technical and economic aspects of adopting steam adsorption chillers, this report contributes to the knowledge base for sustainable and efficient energy utilization in central plant operations.
  • Internal Standard and Deuterated Solvent Selection: A Crucial Step in PFAS-based Fluorine-19 (¹⁹F) NMR Research

    Purpose: This work is vital because it provides researchers with a framework and rationale for selecting the best internal standard and deuterated solvent for their nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-based compounds. Selecting the best internal standard and deuterated solvent will help to ensure that their results are accurate, precise, and sensitive. The internal standard that is chosen can significantly affect the accuracy, precision, sensitivity, and quantification of NMR measurements. Therefore, it is essential to carefully select an internal standard and a matching deuterated solvent that are well-suited for analyzing PFAS compounds.