Taking the Waste Out of Wastewater
Shane Snyder is on a mission to find efficient ways to transform the water we discard into safe and sustainable drinking water.
In water-scarce regions of the world, including Arizona, water reuse is critical for sustainability, and Snyder's research is recognized as a critical component of water reuse projects.
"Southern Arizona lies at the epicenter of a growing water crisis,” says Snyder, a UA professor of chemical and environmental engineering who also co-directs the new Water and Energy Sustainable Technology facility. “And around the globe, population growth and urban density are taxing freshwater resources.”
Sea water desalination and water reuse are the dominant alternatives for supplementing water supplies, but they lead to unique challenges in protecting public health from what are known as "emerging contaminants," such as endocrine-disrupting compounds and pharmaceuticals, which are ubiquitous in municipal wastewater effluents.
With WEES funding, Snyder is leading a research team to examine novel ways of treating and evaluating the complex mixtures of emerging contaminants present in wastewater. In another WEES project, Snyder is collaborating with a team lead by Manish Keswani of the UA’s materials science and engineering department to explore a process that uses ultrasonic energy to split chemical bonds, thereby reducing emerging contaminants.
“These funds allow our team to expand into new areas that made us more competitive for future opportunities,” Snyder says.
One of the nation’s top water contaminant experts, Snyder joined the UA as part of the University’s environmental hiring initiative, which has been coordinated by IE, to recruit outstanding environmental faculty to campus. His work has been hailed as the first on the continent to link the presence of trace steroids to reproductive problems in fish, with implications for public health. Snyder's research is also recognized as a critical component of water reuse projects. With a track record of research funding from both government and the private sector, Snyder has been awarded more than $2 million in grants and philanthropy since his arrival at the UA.