I identify and study fundamental CO2-water-rock interaction research problems that play a critical role in society’s urgent climate change mitigation and adaptation endeavors. While the core of my research is always the kinetics, thermodynamics, and geochemical modeling of water-rock interactions, my current research projects can be categorized into three climate change–related themes.
First, storing billions of tons of CO2 in aquifers, minerals, and soils causes myriad CO2-water-rock interactions. My geochemical kinetics research helps to predict the consequences of these interactions in terms of CO2 storage safety and efficiency. Click this link for our CCUS publications.
Second, the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy requires critical minerals that formed as precipitates from water. Recently, my collaborators and I have started a project on the thermodynamic and transport properties of rare earth elements to better inform the successful exploration of mineral resources. An additional collaborative project assesses the potential release of toxic elements into streams from mining lithium in central Europe. The predictive power of geochemical modeling, if grounded in solid sciences, provides a critical tool for promoting environmentally responsible and socially acceptable handling of wastes generated from mineral extraction.
Third, a warming climate impacts both water quantity and water quality. Studies of CO2-water-rock interactions inform both the quantity and direction of fluid flow and the release mechanisms of contaminants to water. Recently, we have developed a regional scale hydrological model that predicts a severe reduction of water availability in the historically water-rich Wabash River basin (USA) toward the end of the century (https://futurewater.indiana.edu). Currently, we are developing models to access the impact on water quality, using high-performance computers and machine learning tools.