Carrie Harns

Carrie Harns

University of Wyoming, MS
Stearns/SCS Scholar 2010

Mechanistic Assessment of the Mobility of Titanium Dioxide and Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles through Municipal Solid Waste Landfill Clay Liners

Project Description (while EREF Scholar):
The occurrence of nanopartilces in solid waste is imminent as a result of the numerous products that are now, or in the near future, constituted of these nanomaterials. Despite the widespread interest in the commercial production and application of nanoparticles, little information exists on their fate in solid waste landfill environments. The overall goal of my research project is to determine the ability of existing solid waste landfills to adequately serve as containment systems for nanotechnology associated waste products. This effort will specifically characterize the permeability of montmorillonite clay to titanium dioxide and cerium oxide nanomaterials and assess how exposure of clay to nanomaterials affects its permeability.  Finally, this project involves characterizing the adsorption behaviors of heavy metals commonly found in municipal solid waste landfills to these nanomaterials under low-redox conditions in order to evaluate their ability to serve as transport vectors for these contaminants across landfill containment systems.  The specific aims that I will pursue to achieve the overall objective are as follows:

1. Assess the interfacial interactions between titanium dioxide and cerium oxide nanoparticles and montmorillonite clay in order to understand the mobility of these materials through landfill liners of similar composition.

2. Characterize the modification of montmorillonite clay liner properties following exposure to pristine titanium dioxide and cerium oxide nanoparticles.

3. Characterize the adsorption of heavy metals to titanium dioxide and cerium oxide nanoparticles under simulated low redox (landfill) conditions to evaluate their ability to serve as transport vectors across landfill containment systems.

Carrie originates from the small ranching community of Eden, WY. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Microbiology from the University of Wyoming in May 2010 and is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Wyoming. During her undergraduate career, Carrie had the opportunity to work on two different research projects. One project focused on understanding the role of cytochromes in the reduction of Fe(III) by microbial processes. The second project focused on electrically-induced reduction of TCE in groundwater. Her primary research interest is in the microbial processes that play a role in the degradation and transformation of wastes. In her spare time, Carrie enjoys playing volleyball and basketball, reading and watching college basketball.