SPUR 2022 Projects: Mines & Earth Sciences

Atmospheric Sciences | College of Mines & Earth Sciences
Global Change and Sustainability Center


Daniel Mendoza, Research Assistant Professor

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The electric bus air quality monitoring platform is a novel mobile platform where electric buses operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) have been outfitted with sensors measuring fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, and nitrogen oxides (NOx). This unique project follows in the footsteps of the TRAX air quality monitoring project and is a collaboration between Salt Lake County, UTA, Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ), and the University of Utah. The focus of this study is to measure pollution at the residential level and particular attention has been placed on making sure the buses travel on routes servicing the underserved West Side of Salt Lake County. The valuable information will help inform policy and health decisions through a lens of equity and environmental justice.

NOTE: This project is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (PIs: Sara Grineski and Tim Collins). In addition to being part of SPUR, it is also part of the HAPPIEST program. Applicants must be University of Utah students who identify in one or more of the following ways (defined by the National Institutes of Health): Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinxs, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Two students will be selected to work on this project together.

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Materials Science & Engineering | college of Mines & Earth Sciences


Xuming Wang, Research Professor

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Phosphogypsum is a waste product from the phosphate industry. Global phosphogypsum (PG) generation is estimated at 200 Mt/a (Parreira, Kobayashi and Silvestre, 2003; Yang et al., 2009), but only about 15 percent is recycled as building materials, agricultural fertilizers, or soil stabilization amendments (Tayibi, Choura and Lopez, 2009). The United States Environmental Protection Agency has banned most applications of phosphogypsum having a 226Ra concentration of greater than 10 picocurie/gram (0.4 Bq/g). As a result, phosphogypsum which exceeds this limit is stored in large stacks. Central Florida has a large quantity of phosphate deposits, particularly in the Bone Valley region. As a result, there are about 1 billion tons of phosphogypsum stacked in 25 stacks in Florida (22 are in central Florida) and about 30 million new tons are generated each year. The transformation of CO2 into a precipitated mineral carbonate is considered a promising option for carbon capture and storage since the captured CO2 can be stored permanently and industrial wastes can be recycled and converted into value-added carbonate materials. Carbon mineralization as a strategy to both sequester CO2 and liberate energy-relevant minerals represents a significant opportunity to address the growing need for these minerals while concurrently contribution to a reduction in greenhouse gases. This proposal will use phosphogypsum (PG) waste for CO2 mineralization to produce high quality CaCO3 and recover the REE and radionuclides from phosphogypsum (PG).

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