Environmental Engineering Facilities

Environmental Laboratories are located on campus in O’Brien Hall and Davis Halls, with additional experimental facilities available nearby at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Richmond Field Station. The campus laboratories for teaching and research are configured for organic and inorganic chemical analysis in air, water and soils; process analysis studies for aerosol dynamics, biological transformations, photochemical reactions, and mass transfer rates in porous media; studies of fluid mechanics; and computational facilities to support environmental modeling.

Environmental Quality Laboratories

Environmental Quality Laboratories are located in Davis and O’Brien Halls. The campus laboratories for research and teaching are configured for organic and inorganic chemical analysis in air, water, and soils; process analysis for aerosol dynamics, biological transformations, photochemical reactions, and mass transfer rates in porous media; and computational facilities to support environmental transport modeling. Additional facilities, including mesocosms and experimental wetlands, are utilized at the Richmond Field Station and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology Laboratories

The Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology Laboratories are equipped for experimental measurements revealing the dynamics that govern processes of environmental interest. Flows are created using several facilities: a tilting recirculating water flume to simulate rivers, an insulated water basin coupled with an active-grid wind tunnel to simulate wind-driven waves, and a wave tank to simulate deep water waves. Each facility is equipped for sediment-laden flows, thereby revealing the interaction of fluid flow and landforms. Each facility allows optical access to enable measurements using the lab’s advanced quantitative imaging tools.

Quantitative imaging allows us to literally see flow patterns and make measurements in multiple dimensions plus time. The laboratories are equipped to innovate and advance these techniques, providing unprecedented visibility in flows of environmental importance. The optical measurement equipment includes a variety of lasers for flow illuminations, plus custom digital cameras whose timing can be precisely and flexibly synchronized with the lasers. A variety of specialty lenses allow the cameras to image flows in three dimensions plus time. Ancillary measurement equipment is available including a sonic anemometer and an acoustic Doppler velocimeter optimized for laboratory-scale flows.

Additional experimental facilities are available at the Richmond Field Station including flumes for estuary studies, a large model basin for studies of harbors, river restoration and related problems, wind-wave channels, and flumes for stratified flow and debris flow studies. Support is provided by a machine shop maintained by the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, which provides capability for construction of small- and large-scale equipment, as well as control electronics.

Robby Zeller (BS '09) and Professor Evan Variano discuss the Randomly Actuated Active Grid system they developed. This device modifies the structure of wind flow in a laboratory facility that couples a wind tunnel with a water basin. This facility is used to investigate the interaction of the atmosphere and wetlands. It helps the laboratory flow resemble more closely the features of wind as observed in the environment.

Water Quality Laboratories

Water Quality Laboratories in O'Brien Hall are equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for quantifying environmental contaminants in water and soils. These labs are configured for:

  • organic and inorganic chemical analysis in air, water, and soils
  • process analysis for aerosol dynamics
  • microbial and molecular biological analysis of soils, waters and sludges
  • biological kinetics
  • photochemical reactions
  • mass transfer rates in porous media
  • computational facilities to support environmental transport and fate modeling

Research and coursework in water quality focuses on: fate of groundwater contaminants; wastewater treatment processes; nutrient control; sustainable development of water resources, transport and treatment of chemical and microbiological contaminants that affect water quality, and development of natural and engineered treatment systems for chemical contaminants and human pathogensusing mesocosms (experimental ponds and wetlands).

Air Quality Laboratories

Air Quality Laboratories are equipped for experimental work on air quality problems that span a wide range of scales from indoor microenvironments, plume dispersion, urban and regional air pollution, to global changes in climate and atmospheric chemistry. Additional experiments relating to air quality take place in Professor Goldstein's laboratories in Hilgard Hall, at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and in field studies that involve nearby residences, schools, traffic tunnels, outdoor urban sites, and forest ecosystems.