Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

Exploring a Novel Approach to Addressing Climate Change

As the planet continues to heat up and sea levels rise, thousands of miles of coastline are at greater and greater risk for flooding.  Professor Larry Murdoch and a team from FRx Inc., are exploring a novel way to address this growing problem.  Murdoch’s collaborators in EEES include Adjunct Professor Leonid N. Germanovich, Associate Professor Michael Carbajales-Dale, Research Associate Professor Scott DeWolf, and graduate students Robert Moak, Clemence Laffaille, and Soheil Roudini.  The idea is to uplift land on the coast to reduce flooding.  The research team has shown on a small scale that this can be done by injecting a slurry of wood particles into the subsurface.  Murdoch and FRx have a long history of experience with injecting materials into the subsurface for creating fractures that can be used to improve the clean-up of contaminated soil and groundwater.  By adapting this technology (given the acronym Carbon SIRGE, which stands for “Solid Injection to Raise Ground Elevation,”), they have demonstrated the potential to raise land surfaces in an economically and environmentally feasible manner.  There is a large additional benefit to using wood particles because growing the trees to provide the wood is a way to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and thereby mitigate the greenhouse effect that is warming the planet.  Murdoch and colleagues recently published their research in the top-tier journal Environmental Science & Technology.  You can read more about this important advance in the urgently needed efforts to slow climate change through the University’s press release.