the media: Aerosol Monitoring Technology Takes “Airborne Precautions"<img alt="" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Biswas%202019.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​Scientists are urgently looking at the different environmental conditions in which COVID-19 can persist. </p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Specific tests include looking at how humidity, temperature and ultraviolet light affect the disease, how long it lives on different surfaces, as well as the way the COVID-19 compares to SARS and MERS, or the common cold viruses currently in circulation. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health officials use this information to make sure their guidance is appropriate</span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">. </span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets of liquid that come out of people’s noses and mouths if they cough, sneeze or talk, said Dr. Maria </span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist</span><span lang="EN-CACalibri"> </span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">and technical consultant for the WHO</span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">. “What is known about droplet transmission is that when they come out of an infected person, the droplets go a certain distance but then settle,” she said during a press briefing, adding that it is the reason for the recommendation to keep a distance of one to two meters (three to six feet) apart from individuals.</span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">“But when you do an aerosol-generating procedure in a medical care facility, you have the possibility to what we call aerosolize these particles, which means they can stay in the air a little bit longer,” explained Van Kerkhove. “In that situation, in healthcare facilities, it’s very important that healthcare workers take additional precautions when they’re working on patients and doing those procedures.” </span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)—which is the virus that causes coronavirus disease—was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, according to the </span><span lang="EN-CA"><a href="" target="_blank">National Institutes of Health</a></span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">.</span><span lang="EN-CACalibri"></span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Building on this critical part of understanding the virus, scientists at the Aerosol and Air Quality Research Laboratory (AAQRL) at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis are currently in discussions with the School of Medicine to deploy aerosol monitoring equipment and sensors for real-time, remote monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in enclosures where patients will be tested.</span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">The work is part of a battery of </span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">studies across the globe looking at the different environmental conditions in which COVID-19 can persist, said Dr. </span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">Pratim Biswas, </span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">president of the International Aerosol Research Assembly and head of </span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">the AAQRL team.</span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">“We have to step up and work with our colleagues in the medical sciences, and work as a team to help overcome the crisis,” said Biswas, whose research accomplishments earned him the 2018 Fuchs Award, the highest honor given to aerosol scientists. “As the coronavirus encountered now is rather new and novel, and as sufficient studies are just being conducted, we need to use best practices and findings from other studies with a strong scientific underpinning, to develop guidelines and approaches with COVID-19. Guidance to frontline healthcare workers is important at this stage.”</span></p><p> Machine Design<span lang="EN-CACalibri"> talked to Biswas about his work in novel, real-time measurement techniques for measuring viral particles in air.</span></p><p><span lang="EN-CACalibri"></span><span style="color: #666666; font-family: "open sans"; font-size: 1.15em; font-weight: 700;">Q. As head of the AAQRL at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University, what is your research focus?</span></p><p>My research focus is in aerosol science and engineering—the fundamentals associated with particle formation, growth and transport. Aerosol science and engineering is an enabling discipline with applications to the environment, energy, advanced materials, medicine and health. Details of my research project and research group are available at <span lang="EN-CA"><a href="" target="_blank"></a></span>.</p><h4> Q. Tell us about the aerosol monitoring equipment. Please describe the design of the equipment as well as summarize the modelling tools you use in this application.</h4><p>There are a range of real-time instruments that can be used to measure small particles of sizes close to viruses. There are a range of electrical mobility analyzers which can accurately measure particles in the range of 1 nm to 1000 nm in real time. There are also optical particle counters which can measure in the range of 300 nm and up.</p><h4>Q. What are the sensors’ function in achieving real-time, remote monitoring?<span lang="EN-CACalibri"></span></h4><p>Our current sensors have been miniaturized and marketed by a startup company called Applied Particle Technology. They are optical-based units and have a dashboard set up to monitor the particulate matter (PM) concentrations in real time. Using IoT concepts we can operate them remotely. We have fixed versions (image below, left) of these monitors and wearable versions (right). We are currently deploying them for use in the Barnes Jewish Hospital for measurement in chambers where COVID-19 patients will be checked by physicians. Our collaborators are from the Infectious Disease program, School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis.</p><p> <span data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5e790ebb603d14ed078b497f"> <img class="lazyloaded" src="" data-src="" data-image-id="5e790ebb603d14ed078b497f" alt="The Aerosol and Air Quality Research Laboratory uses sensors to detect and measure airborne particles in the range of 1 nm to 1000 nm, in real time." style="box-sizing: border-box; vertical-align: middle; width: auto; min-width: auto; opacity: 1; transition: opacity 0.25s; margin: 5px;"/></span></p><p> <span data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5e790ebb603d14ed078b497f"><sub>The Aerosol and Air Quality Research Laboratory uses sensors to detect and measure airborne particles in the range of 1 nm to 1000 nm, in real time.</sub></span><span lang="EN-CACalibri"></span></p><h4> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Q. What are the ideal applications, and how can it be useful for testing patients with SARS-CoV-2 in enclosures? <br/></span></h4><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Ideally, we would use a more specific device designed for measurement of viruses. These devices have a very high efficiency of collection for the viral nanoparticles and then can follow up by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) techniques for specificity of the type of virus.</span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">In the current work, we are deploying the more robust PM sensors to get an idea of the contamination in the room. If the patients are coughing or sneezing, the particles are in the size range of the devices deployed, and will provide information in real time on the level of cleanliness in the room. This is essential to ensure that the healthcare workers are protected. </span></p><h4> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Q. You have a patent on technology described as combining “photoionization with electrostatic precipitation that has been proven to be highly effective at capturing viruses and other bioagents.” Can you elaborate on the innovation and its function?  </span></h4><div class="ad-container ad-container--max-width-300 ad-container--float-right" data-informa-gam-location="article" data-informa-gam-position="inarticle4" data-informa-gam-context="{"contentId":21126861}" data-informa-gam-key="article_300_4_rht_infinite" data-gam-path="/3834/machdesign.home/program/medical_design" data-gam-size="[[300,250],[300,600]]" data-gam-size-mapping="[{"viewport":[0,0],"size":[[300,250]]},{"viewport":[779,0],"size":[[300,250],[300,600]]}]" data-gam-targeting="{"pos":"300_4_rht","article_number":"1","program":"medical_design","ptype":"Article","nid":"21126861","pterm":"medical_design","author":"rehana_begg","content":"medical_design"}" data-gam-collapse="true" data-google-query-id="CJq0leGis-gCFU28TwodUlYDBA" style="box-sizing: border-box; text-align: center; max-width: 300px; float: right; margin-top: 1rem; margin-bottom: 1rem; margin-left: 1.5rem;"><div style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0pt none;"></div></div><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">The U.S. patented device (</span><span lang="EN-CA"><a href="" target="_blank">US Patent 6,861,036</a></span><span lang="EN-CACalibri">) is a photoionizer enhanced electrostatic precipitator for air cleaning. It works on the principle of charging the virus or bacteria, and then trapping them in an electric field. In the process, the virus or bacteria is completely inactivated (it cannot infect any human or living organism). The device has a very high efficiency of capture and has been demonstrated to destroy all biological agents such as viruses. Furthermore, the exhaust air has no byproducts, and has very low levels of ozone. The innovation of combining the two mechanisms of photoionization with electrostatic coronas suppresses ozone formation, but ensures high capture and inactivation efficiency.</span></p><p> <span data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5e790ebb2fd1ed23258b479b"> <img class="lazyloaded" src="" data-src="" data-image-id="5e790ebb2fd1ed23258b479b" alt="An optical-based sensor monitors particulate matter concentrations in real time." style="box-sizing: border-box; vertical-align: middle; width: auto; min-width: auto; opacity: 1; transition: opacity 0.25s; margin: 5px;"/> </span></p><p> <span data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5e790ebb2fd1ed23258b479b"> <sub>An optical-based sensor monitors particulate matter concentrations in real time.</sub></span></p><h4> <span data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5e790ebb2fd1ed23258b479b">Q. Tell us about your ultimate objectives based on your techniques in the controlled studies for measuring viral particles in air. What have you learnt up until now, and where is the research leading your team? </span></h4><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">We have done several studies on the measurement of viruses in real time using innovative aerosol methodologies. With some pre-knowledge of the viral nanoparticle, we have been able to rapidly determine the presence of these agents in air.  </span></p><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Current studies are focused on establishing the transport and transmission characteristics of coronaviruses. This will be useful in determining how far the virus is transported, and potentially how and where it deposits in the respiratory tract. This is also going to be useful in predicting the infectivity to humans—such as that happening due to community spread of the coronavirus. </span></p><h4> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Q. What is one noteworthy takeaway that you offer multi-disciplinary engineers and researchers currently working in this area of research? <br/></span></h4><p> <span lang="EN-CACalibri">Work together to tackle the problem. Such a complex problem requires a true “team science” effort to promote a fundamental understanding that will help understand and solve the issues we face.</span></p>Rehana Begg, MachineDesign science and engineering have never been more relevant. An expert explains how the research assists healthcare workers on the coronavirus frontlines.<p>​Aerosol science and engineering have never been more relevant. An expert explains how the research assists healthcare workers on the coronavirus frontlines.<br/></p> osmosis could be alternative wastewater treatment method<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Cover%20ESWRT.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>Orange County, California, uses a reverse osmosis and microfiltration system to further purify wastewater for recharging deep aquifers that are sources for clean drinking water for its 2.5 million customers. Reverse osmosis is a widely-used practice worldwide for desalination and wastewater recycling in areas where clean water is scarce, but it's an expensive system, both in cost and in energy consumption. An environmental engineer from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that forward osmosis could be an emerging less-costly technology that could be used to remove salts and other contaminants from wastewater.</p><p>Zhen (Jason) He, professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University, and Matthew Ferby, a doctoral student in his lab, analyzed the feasibility of using forward osmosis as an alternative wastewater treatment method in a paper published in and featured on the cover of <em>Environmental Science Water Research & Technology </em>March 5, 2020.</p><p>Forward osmosis uses natural osmotic pressure created by a concentrated solution such as fertilizer, salts or sugar solutions as the power to extract high-quality water from wastewater with a membrane as an effective barrier to prevent contaminants from entering the extracted water. However, first they must reduce reverse solute flux, an overlooked process in which the concentrated solute flows back through the membrane into the treated wastewater. Negative effects of reverse solute flux include decrease in water flow, increase in operational costs due to loss of solutes, and accumulation of salts.</p><p>"Reducing reverse solute flux is critically important to forward-osmosis operations," He said. "We have to figure out a way to reduce this migration and to deal with whatever contaminants already moved back to the feed solution."</p><p>To find an answer to this problem, Ferby is studying three methods: physical separation, chemical precipitation and biological removal, though each has limitations.</p><p>"We know that no matter how perfect our method is, there will still be some solutes that will get through, so we are looking at other possibilities: Can we recover and turn those contaminated solutes into useful compounds for reuse?" He said.  </p><p>This recovered water could be used for lawn care, irrigation and other purposes for which clean drinking water is not necessary, He said.  <br/></p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><p>Ferby M, Zou S, He Z. Reduction of reverse solute flux induced solute buildup in the feed solution of forward osmosis. <em>Environmental Science Water Research & Technology</em>. Published online Dec. 4, 2019, in print March 5, 2020. DOI: 10.1039.c0ew00775j.<br/></p><p>Funding for this study was provided by New Horizon Graduate Fellowship (Ferby) and Water INTERface IGEP (Zou), both from Virginia Tech.<br/></p><div><div class="cstm-section"><h3>Zhen (Jason) He<br/></h3><div style="text-align: center;"> <strong><img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Jason%20He%202020.jpg?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/></strong></div><ul style="text-align: left;"><li>Professor of Environmental Engineering</li><li>Expertise: Environmental biotechnology, bioenergy production, biological wastewater treatment, resource recovery, bioelectrochemical systems, sustainable desalination technology, anaerobic digestion, forward osmosis and membrane bioreactors<br/></li></ul><p style="text-align: center;"> <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Zhen-Jason-He.aspx">>> View Bio</a><br/></p><h3>Matthew Ferby<br/></h3><div style="text-align: center;"><strong><img src="/news/PublishingImages/MFerby_Headshot.jpg?RenditionID=3" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/> <br/></strong></div><ul><li>PhD student, Environmental Engineering<br/></li></ul></div></div>Research by Jason He and graduate student Matthew Ferby appears on the cover of Environmental Science Water Research & Technology's March 2020 issue.Beth Miller 2020-03-05T06:00:00ZForward osmosis could be a less-costly technology that could be used to remove salts and other contaminants from wastewater, according to new research by McKelvey engineers. play role in regulating light harvesting<img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Picture1.png?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>​</p><p>Research from the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering has shed light on a unique aspect of the role and limitations of carotenoids — a molecule class of which b-carotene is a part — in regulating light-harvesting efficiency in photosynthetic organisms.</p>The study, led by Dariusz Niedzwiedzki, a researcher at the McKelvey School of Engineering, and Andrew Hitchcock, a researcher from University of Sheffield, looked at the relationship between structural motifs of carotenoids, like their number of conjugated carbon-carbon double bonds (<em>N</em>), and their roles in light-harvesting complexes (LHCs), protein-pigment complexes which absorb light energy as the first step in the photosynthesis process.<p>It was published March 5, 2020, in the <em><a href="">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a></em>.<br/></p><p>Carotenoids help regulate the efficiency of LHCs and photoprotect the primary photosynthetic pigments, chlorophylls and bacteriochlorophylls, embedded in those complexes. Carotenoids with fewer <em>N</em> allow LHCs to be more efficient however, in nature there are no examples of LHCs preferring carotenoids with <em>N</em> < 9.</p><p>Using advanced spectroscopic methods like femtosecond time-resolved transient absorption and an engineered bacterial LHC that contained carotenoid that had just <em>N </em>= 7, Niedzwiedzki and team found that, although decreasing the length of carotenoid conjugation <em>N</em> would give the photosynthetic organism advantage of having LHCs with improved efficiency of light harvesting, it came at a price.</p><p>Notably this research demonstrated that carotenoids with such short <em>N</em> essentially do not provide photoprotection in LHCs, which is essential for survival of all photosynthetic organisms exposed to stressful conditions such as full sunlight. It is also valuable information for researchers who work on mimicking photosynthesis using bioinspired, artificially made light-harvesting complexes.</p><p> </p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><p> </p><p><br/></p>Carotenoids help regulate the efficiency of LHCs and photoprotect the primary photosynthetic pigments, chlorophylls and bacteriochlorophylls, embedded in those complexes.Brandie Jefferson2020-03-05T06:00:00ZNew research sheds light on a unique aspect of the role of carotenoids in regulating light-harvesting efficiency in photosynthetic organisms. McKelvey faculty members win research equipment awards <img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/Moon%20Vijay%20Raman%20USE.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><div id="__publishingReusableFragmentIdSection"><a href="/ReusableContent/36_.000">a</a></div><p>​Three faculty members in the McKelvey School of Engineering will be able to purchase important equipment needed for their research through grants awarded by the Department of Defense.<br/></p><p>The faculty are Tae Seok Moon, associate professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering; Barani Raman, associate professor of biomedical engineering; and Vijay Ramani, the Roma B. & Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished University Professor, also in energy, environmental & chemical engineering.<br/></p><p>The highly competitive Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grants provide faculty members the funds to purchase major equipment to perform cutting-edge research. In 2019, the Department of Defense awarded grants to 185 university researchers at 95 institutions totaling $56 million.<br/></p><p>Tae Seok Moon, associate professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering, plans to purchase a liquid handler with accompanying instruments to conduct high-throughput testing function by automating liquid transfer, cell culturing and measurement. The technology will improve the rate of construct testing, maximizing his ability to discover and improve novel biosensors, enzymes, genetic circuits and biomaterials. This highly precise programmed automation will improve the team's ability to reproduce results, allowing the greater academic community to expand on the research.<br/></p><p>Raman, in collaboration with Shantanu Chakrabartty, the Clifford W. Murphy Professor in the Preston M. Green Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering, and Srikanth Singamaneni, professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, plans to develop an automated system that includes a robotic surgical setup for microsurgery in small animal models, a light sheet microscope for functional neural imaging, and computational infrastructure for big-data analysis. Raman and his team have been using insects as model organisms to emulate in making a biorobotic nose. The new equipment will allow his team to perform minimally invasive surgical procedures in the insects' exoskeletons to insert the functional imaging equipment. In addition, the state-of-the-art light sheet microscopy allows neural tissue contained on an entire optical plan to be illuminated and imaged, allowing the team to label certain neural populations with calcium indicators. Finally, they will incorporate a GPU-based computer cluster to the robotic surgery and neural imaging setup to analyze the up to 100 GB of raw data generated from the imaging.<br/></p><p>Ramani plans to acquire a unique system of instruments that allow construction and evaluation of modular electrochemical devices, including direct-liquid fuel cells, unitized regenerative fuel cells and electrochemical flow cells. The platform will allow the team to build membrane electrode assemblies at scales ranging from lab scale to commercial scale and has the ability to evaluate cells for extended time periods in a safe and controlled way. The system includes a programmable coater that allows uniform coatings on to modular substrates as well as a modular electrochemical cell evaluation platform that allows the researchers to perform electrochemical cell evaluation at multiple scales. Ramani said the new instruments will be used in his current research project funded by the Office of Naval Research.<br/></p><SPAN ID="__publishingReusableFragment"></SPAN><p><br/></p><p><br/></p>(From left) Tae Seok Moon, Barani Raman, Vijay RamaniBeth Miller 2020-02-20T06:00:00ZThree McKelvey School of Engineering faculty members will purchase new equipment for their labs with funding from the Department of Defense. named Outstanding Professional Engineer in Education <img alt="" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Giammar_Daniel.jpg?RenditionID=6" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>Daniel Giammar, the Walter E. Browne Professor of Environmental Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, has received the Outstanding Professional Engineer (PE) in Education Award (2019-20) from the St. Louis Chapter of the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers. The award recognizes him in the St. Louis region. He received the award Feb. 7.</p><p>The award is among others awarded, including Engineer of the Year, Young Engineer of the Year, Outstanding PE in Private Practice, Outstanding PE in Construction, Outstanding PE in Industry and Outstanding PE in Government. The Missouri Society of Professional Engineers, chartered in 1947, includes the counties of Lincoln, Warren, St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin and Jefferson.<br/></p>2020-02-19T06:00:00ZDaniel Giammar has been named the Outstanding Professional Engineer in Education by the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers' St. Louis Chapter.