Better water through science

Removing heavy metals and radioactive elements from water to improve lives worldwide.

For his significant and global contributions to clean water and environmental causes, his dedication as an outstanding educator, and his commitment to invention and the pursuit of discovery, Professor Xiaoguang Meng received an honorary Master of Engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology at the university's annual Convocation Ceremony on September 8, 2010.

Dr. Meng, a professor in the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science, has dedicated his career to teaching and research in physicochemical treatment of arsenic and heavy metals in water and solids. He has gained international recognition for research into the interaction of heavy metals, uranium, and inorganic compounds at the metal hydroxide-water interface and the fate and transport of arsenic and heavy metals in an aquatic environment. Through this work he has developed a number of patented technologies that have been successfully used to remove toxins from contaminated water, in the process saving lives around the world and protecting the environment.

Arsenic is a global problem, with up to 140 million people at risk due to arsenic contamination in drinking or irrigation water. Dr. Meng has been a pioneer in applying emerging nanotechnologies to create breakthrough filtration systems serving the worldwide need for clean and safe water. Due to nanomaterials' superior properties for reacting with or absorbing contaminants, Dr. Meng's filters are able to remove heavy metals and even radioactive elements from water quickly and effectively. As a result of Dr. Meng's research on metallic iron and co-precipitation filtration systems, full-scale water treatment units are currently operating at multiple locations around the United States. These units have been successfully restoring environmental remediation sites since the 1990s, treating contaminated groundwater that could have had disastrous, long-term effects on local communities.

At a Department of Defense site in California, Dr. Meng deployed material and chemical filtration units to reduce naturally-occurring elevated levels of fluoride and arsenic from groundwater. His work resulted in dramatically reduced well operation costs and a substantial reduction of waste water and other products associated with the purification process.

Dr. Meng tests water for arsenicIn Bangladesh, Dr. Meng's water purification technologies are utilized to address a national drinking water contamination crisis. Up to 20 percent of deaths in Bangladesh are caused by arsenic poisoning, and tens of millions of lives are at critical risk of death or illness due to arsenic. Under Dr. Meng's direction, household filtration units for removal of arsenic from well water have been effectively utilized in three established arsenic-free villages. Responding to this success, the Technical Advisory Group of Bangladesh Arsenic Mitigation Water Supply Project has recommended this particular filtration process for nationwide use.

Dr. Meng has also developed a system for real-time analysis of arsenic that can provide inexpensive and almost instant water quality testing for us around the world. As water quality issues occur more frequently in developing countries, Dr. Meng has always considered cost of testing and filtration when designing his technologies. The real-time arsenic test sensors and household filtration units for Bangladesh will be affordable for even the world's lowest-income families, fundamentally changing the ability of individuals to have access to safe drinking water.

As the co-director of the Center for Environmental Systems (CES) at Stevens, Dr. Meng has mentored a large number of students involved in various aspects of environmental research over the past 15 years. He has co-authored 59 journal articles, a book, and four patents. He has seen nearly 30 of his projects funded, most of them in the pursuit of purifying water. After raising more than $1 million in venture funding, HydroGlobe, a company co-founded by Dr. Meng to manufacture a patented water purification system, was profitably acquired by Graver Technologies.

Dr. Meng is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Water Works Association, and the Chinese American Association for Engineering.

In addition to his Bachelors of Science in chemistry and Masters of Science in Marine Chemistry from Shandong College of Oceanography in China, Dr. Meng holds a PhD in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University. He joined Stevens in 1993 and immediately began to contribute important research at CES.

Please visit Dr. Meng's research profile to explore his work at Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation UniversityTM.