Low cost mycelial stabilization of coal combustion products to reduce As, and Se contamination of groundwater



This proposal seeks to stabilize coal combustion products through encapsulation in a fungal matrix and thereby prevent groundwater contamination by arsenic and selenium. While fungi have been effective in treating various contaminants, its application to mitigate pollution from coal combustion products is limited. Our preliminary results show that mycelial encapsulation is very effective in reducing As and Se leaching from fly ash. This 1-year proposal seeks to further (a) define the culture conditions for effective mycelial encapsulation of coal combustion products and (b) assess the arsenic and selenium leachability from mycelia encapsulated coal combustion products under realistic groundwater conditions.


We hypothesize that fungal mycelium can be utilized to prevent groundwater
contamination by arsenic and selenium released from coal combustion products.


Task 1: Identify and quantify the key parameters that affect fungal mycelium growth in CCP matrix and their effects in reducing metal leaching potential from CCP.

Task 2: Evaluate the effectiveness of utilizing mycelium-encapsulated CCP matrix to prevent metal contamination in simulated groundwater flow-through or circulation systems.

Expected Results:

This project will be conducted in the biogeochemical lab at Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. It will include significant participation of two undergraduate students from Natural Resources and Environmental Science Department: Madalyn Liberman and Sabine Miller. They will be trained in mycelium culture, column experiments, sample collection/analysis, and data reporting. By doing so, the students will obtain laboratory skills and experience in designing and conducting environmental studies. The results, if successful, will be adapted and modified for field level application through engagement of colleagues from PRI with expertise in ground water modeling and geotechnical engineering. It is expected that the results, if successful, will result in an IP disclosure to the Office of Technology Management, UIUC and also form the basis of a proposal to USDOE in 2020.

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