Water Chemistry and Technology Lab

Welcome to Water Chemistry & Technology Research Group at UC Riverside!

Our group's research is focused on the understanding and application of aquatic chemical processes to improve water quality, design treatment processes and provide more reliable water supplies. We face great challenges on the availability of high-quality water resources. Aquatic chemistry plays a pivotal role in both the engineered and natural systems of water cycle. Our research focuses on the applications of aquatic chemistry principles in engineered applications such as water purification, wastewater reclamation, and to understand how various redox and interfacial chemical processes influence water quality and quantity. We integrate fundamental principles of surface chemistry, electrochemistry and chemical kinetics modeling with advanced analytical capacities to address these issues. In addition, we are active in outreach activities to raise public awareness on water issues. If you would like to learn more about us, please take a look at our website, check our research opportunity webpage and feel free to contact me for more information. We are always excited to hear from colleagues and potential students who share an interest in these interdisciplinary fields.


Latest News Articles

Recent Group News

October 2023 Our revolutionary photochemical PFAS destruction technology is featured in a recent interview with BBC News. Check the BBC report here. Many thanks to UCR Office of Technology Partnership in supporting us in the technology commercialization and scale-up!

October 2023 UCR group member win the prestigious Dissertation Award! Congrats to Dr. Cheng Tan, who graduated from our group in 2022, in winning the prestigious American Water Works Association Doctoral Dissertation Award. Dr. Cheng investigated and discovered unique hexavalent chromium formation pathway in drinking water distribution systems and developed innovative control strategies of chromium removal. Outcome of his work has tremendous implications on chromium control in our water systems. Check  our publications on hexavalent chromium and other water treatment technologies here.

April 2023 Water desalination project funded by USDA. Our group was selected for funding by U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a new biologically driven desalination process. Congrats to PhD student Phung, who led the discovery phase so far, and our collaborator co-PI Robert Jinkerson at UCR! 

March 2023 Liu group member graduated and launched successful water career! PhD student Liang Wu recently graduated from our group and started an exciting career with California Water Resource Board. Congrats and best luck for your bright future! 

February 2023 A novel discovery on the control of hexavalent chromium release from drinking water distribution system. Check our team's recent publication on the discovery of a new chemical strategy to prevent hexavalent chromium release from drinking water distribution system. This novel discovery opens new possibilities for water industry to better manage aging drinking water distribution systems and prevent the next "Flint Crisis". 

February 2023 New desalination concentration treatment technology published. Check our team's recent publication on desalination concentrate treatment. This new treatment train opens new possibilities for water and resource recoveries from otherwise an environmental hazardous waste stream. 

February 2023 New team member joins Prof. Liu's group. We welcome Mingrui Song as the newest postdoc to join our group!

January 2023 PFAS destruction technology selected for UCR POC grantOur team is “marching toward commercialization” with help from a proof-of-concept (POC) grant from UCR’s Office of Technology Partnership to scale up the IP-protected PFAS destruction technology. More information is here

December 2022 A new PFAS destruction technology. Check our most recent publication on the patent-protected PFAS destruction technology to treat contaminated water. It is one of the top most downloaded articles. The new technology opens possibilities to get rid of the "forever chemicals" from different water sources!

July 2022 Water reuse for irrigation project funded by UCR OASIS Program. Our group was selected for funding by UCR Riverside Opportunities to Advance Sustainability, Innovation, and Social Inclusion (OASIS) Program to develop a novel photochemical water reuse technology for urban agriculture irrigation and food production.

July 2022 Professor Liu obtains the Professional Engineer license in California. This brings new expertise to the CEE department and student mentoring. 

May 2022 Brine Treatment project funded by USDA. Our group was selected for funding by U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop brine treatment technologies for water reuse in agriculture.

April 2022 PhD student won a Best Poster Award at water conference. PhD student Liang Wu won the First Place in Fresh Idea Poster Competition at the American Water Works Association (AWWA) California-Nevada Sectional Conference, and the second place poster award in the national competition. Congrats!

September 2021 New graduate students join Prof. Liu's group. We welcome Sitao Liu as the newest graduate student to join our group!

June 2021 New PFAS research project funded by NSF. Our group and Men group (co-PI, UCR) were selected for funding by U.S. National Science Foundation to develop new PFAS destructive technologies for water treatment. Congrats to the whole team! 

December 2020 Professor Liu received recognition from Orange County Engineering Council. Prof. Liu is awarded the Outstanding Educator Award of the Year by Orange County Engineering Council, for his significant contribution to engineering education on water reuse projects, many in collaboration with Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWDSC).

December 2020 Our most recent study on lead contamination in drinking water is published! Our recent discovery on lead redox chemistry and the implication on the control of lead contamination in drinking water is published in Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. Read the article here. Congrats to Sumant who led the research effort and our collaborator Dr. Samantha Ying from Environmental Sciences Department at UCR!

December 2020 Professor Liu gave a keynote presentation at the 3rd Water-Energy-Nexus International Symposium, and enjoyed networking with colleagues in a virtual environment. 

November 2020 Professor Liu is awarded an honorable mention of the 2021 James J. Morgan Early Career Award. The American Chemical Society and its Environmental Chemistry Division recognize Professor Liu's research accomplishments in environmental science and technology for strong alignment with the aspiration of The James J. Morgan Early Career award, which recognizes the contributions of early career researchers who are leading the fields covered by ES&T and ES&T Letters in new directions, through creative and new ideas. As part of the award recognition, Professor Liu will be an invited speaker at the “James J. Morgan Early Career Award for Great Achievements in Environmental Science and Technology” symposium at the Spring 2021 ACS National Meeting.

October 2020 Professor Liu named as an Associate Editor for the Journal of hazardous Materials. Professor Liu joins the editorial board of the Journal of Hazardous Materials. The Journal of Hazardous Materials is a leading international journal that advances world class research by publishing articles in the areas of Environmental Science and Engineering. 

September 2020 Discovery of a new pathway of hexavalent chromium formation in drinking water is published in ES&T. Our recent novel findings on the formation of toxic chromium formation via iron pipes in drinking water distribution systems is published in Environmental Science & Technology. Congrats to Cheng Tan in leading the research effort! Check this article here

July 2020 Agricultural drainage water treatment project is funded. The California Department of Water Resources funds our research group to develop sustainable treatment technologies on agricultural drainage water. Check the news release here

June 2020 Best student presentation award. Congrats to PhD student Liang Wu on winning the best student presentation award at the annual Environmental Toxicology Program Symposium! 

May 2020 Review article on emerging hexavalent chromium treatment technologies is published. Our recent technology development and review on the treatment of hexavalent chromium is published in Frontier of Environmental Engineering and Science. Check the article here.

April 2020 Treatment technology to remove toxic elements in brine is published. Our recent technology development on the treatment of toxic oxyanions in the brine waste with a high salinity is published in Chemical Engineering Journal. Congrats to Gongde (now a postdoc at Penn State) who led the effort! Check the article here.

March 2020 Feature article on the COVID-19 Coronavirus. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof. Liu co-wrote a timely editorial perspective on the Novel Coronavirus and its fate in wastewater in Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. Read the article here. Check the UCR press release on the publication here

January 2020 Water Treatment project funded by USDA. Our group and Haghverdi group (Environmental Science, UCR) were selected for funding by U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop water technologies for water reuse in agriculture.