Dr. Dorris' Webpage-Research

Biotechnology Research

Environmental pollution has become a critical issue. Air, water and food are all threatened by pollution. Current waste treatment methods are no longer satisfactory since they are generally complex and capital intensive requiring major industrial commitment. The modern thinking in the area of waste treatment is increasingly in new and innovative concepts such as industrial symbiosis. This makes use of waste from one industry by another industry, which benefit both. Our research involves biosorption, biodegration, bioaccumulation, and phytoremediation. This involves removal of heavy metal ions from solution by adsorption using agricultural materials such sawdust. Many agricultural byproducts such as sawdust are of little or no economic value. Sawdust from timber industry is considered as waste material and widely available. Crab shells, which are also considered waste materials, are also under investigation as a material for removal of heavy metals. In addition, clays, such as montmorillonite, illite and kaolinite have been used for the removal of heavy metal ions. Phytoremediation using materials such as water hyacinth are also under investigation for removal of heavy metals. MTBE has recently become a water-quality concern because it has recently been found in the drinking water of several states MTBE poses a potential health risk to the general population. Biotransformation of MTBE leads to the formation of tert-butanol (TBA) and formaldehyde, which in turn are further metabolized to harmful chemicals. Often, only a combination of various treatment processes can provide the quality desired. Our research has resulted in the publication of a number of articles involving the removal of heavy metals from aqueous solutions by crab shells, sawdust and water plants.