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.


Recent Group News

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.

December 2019 New graduate students join Prof. Liu's group. We welcome Xinyu Tang, Phung Quan and Monika Madhiyan as the newest graduate students to join our group!

November 2019 Research project funded by USDA. Our group and Yin group (Chemistry, UCR) were selected for funding by U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop nanostructure materials to treat agricultural wastewater. 

October 2019 UV chloramine and hydrogen peroxide for potable reuse is published in ES&T. Our manuscript on the discovery of a balanced act between chloramine and hydrogen peroxide as photo-oxidant for potable reuse is accepted by Environmental Science & Technology. Congrats to the whole AOP team and Kiran's leading effort! Check the article here.

September 2019 Mercury remediation research is published in Journal of Hazardous Materials. Our recent work on the clean-up of mercury contaminated soil is published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. Check this article here. This is a collaborative work with Dr. Mark Matsumoto at UC Merced. Congrats to all!

September 2019 Tushar successfully defended his PhD work. Congrats to Tushar in completing his PhD degree! He will go forward as an engineer at Intel, Inc. Best wishes for the future career pursuit! 

August 2019 Liu group attended ACS Fall National Meeting. Our group gave a total of six presentations at ACS Fall National Meeting. Congrats to the whole team! Dr. Liu gave an invited talk featuring 2018 best research papers in Environmental Science from Royal Society of Chemistry (Check the best papers here), and co-organized a symposium on stormwater treatment that was well attended. 

August 2019 Liu group attended Gordon conference on disinfection. Our group attended Gordon Research Conference on Disinfection. Group members presented the most recent research findings and networked with colleagues. 

July 2019 Our desalination brine treatment technology is recommend for funding by Department of Interior. We received the great news that our proposed project on brine treatment using advanced oxidation process is recommended for funding by the Department of Interior Desalination and Water Purification Program. This project aims to develop innovative technologies to treat inland desalination brine and recover resource. Check the press release here

July 2019 UV photolysis technology is funded by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. We are excited to receive the news that our photochemical water technology is selected for funding by the World Water Forum Grant from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Congrats to PhD student Liang who led the research effort! 

June 2019 PI receives research and teaching awards. Dr. Liu receives a 2019-2020 UCR Academic Senate Research Award, and a Distinguished Advisor Award from the Environmental Toxicology Program.

June 2019 Best student presentation award. Congrats to PhD student Sam Patton on winning the best student presentation award at the annual Environmental Toxicology Program Symposium! 

May 2019 New insight on desalination concentrate chemistry is published in ES:WR&T. Our recent discovery on the significant effects of antiscalant chemicals in membrane desalination concentrate is accepted by Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. The article shines light on the important role antiscalants, and provides a paradigm shift in managing membrane concentrate for resource recovery. Congrats to Tushar who led the experimental effort! Check the article here.

May 2019 Novel desalination concentrate treatment technology is published in Water Research. Our recent work on an innovative approach to treat membrane desalination concentrate using persulfate photolysis is accepted by Water Research. Congratulations to Zhi Wang who led the experimental effort! Check the article here.

April 2019 Lead corrosion chemistry in drinking water is published in ES:WR&T. Our recent work on the redox stability of lead minerals in drinking water distribution systems is accepted by Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology. Outcome from this article points to important strategies to control lead corrosion and release in drinking water distribution systems. Check the article here

April 2019 Group member receives the prestigious Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship. We got the exciting news that Kiran is awarded with the prestigious UC Riverside Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellowship! This competitive fellowship is awarded to applicants who show substantial promise for a tenure-track appointment. Congrats Kiran!

April 2019 Our group present at ACS Spring National Meeting. Postdoc Kiran and Dr. Liu attended the 2019 ACS Spring National Meeting, and presented our research work on diverse topics ranging from potable reuse to nitrate removal technologies. It's great to see our colleagues and collaborators! 

April 2019 PhD student won a Best Poster Award at water conference. PhD student Sam Patton won the First Place in Fresh Idea Poster Competition at the American Water Works Association (AWWA) California-Nevada Sectional Conference. His award-winning poster presentation focuses on chloramine photolysis and its application in water reuse. Congrats!

March 2019 Our group receives a Best Paper Award from Environmental Science Journal. Our research paper, published in Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology and titled “Cyto- and Geno-Toxicity of 1,4-Dioxane and Its Transformation Products during Ultraviolet-Driven Advanced Oxidation Processes”, has been chosen as the Runner-Up Best Paper of 2018. This study shines light onto potable reuse design strategies based on toxicology considerations. Congrats to team members! Read the news here

March 2019 Collaborative work on full-scale and novel hexavalent chromium treatment is published. Our recent work on a full-scale implementation of innovative stannous reductive treatment of hexavalent chromium from groundwater is accepted for publication by American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water Science Journal! This is the first successful full-scale testing of a new chromium control technology in drinking water. This study results from collaborations with Coachella Valley Water District and Corona Engineering Consulting. Congratulations to John Orta, who led the electrochemical corrosion part of the study! Check the article here. 

March 2019 Collaborative work on enzymatic CO2 conversion is accepted by ACS Biochemistry. Our collaborative work on the synthesis of formate from CO2 gas via enzymatic catalysis is accepted for publication by ACS Biochemistry. Congratulations to our collaborators in Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering! Check the article here.

March 2019 Prof. Liu gave an invited seminar at University of Minnesota. Prof. Liu gave an invited talk in the Department of Civi, Environmental and Geo-Engineering at University of Minnesota, and shared recent research with colleagues on potable water reuse and photochemistry. 

February 2019 Prof. Liu receives Young Professional Award from the International Ultraviolet Association. Prof. Liu is selected to receive the 2019 Young Professional Award from the International UV Association. This award recognizes a young professional under the age of 35 who has made an exceptional contribution to UV research, design, innovation, or applications in the period 2017-2018. Prof. Liu's group is advancing water reuse and purification technologies using photochemical processes. You can find our recent progress in this research area from publications here

February 2019 Best Research Paper Award from the International Ultraviolet Association. Our group receives a Best Research Paper Award from the International UV Association. The paper, titled "Impacts of chloramines on UV photolysis of hydrogen peroxide: removal of trace organic contaminants for potable reuse" was published in Environmental Science & Technology in 2018, and was featured as the cover image of the October 2018 issue of the journal. Our paper was selected by the International UV Association for the impact on the development of UV research and technology, especially in water reuse applications. Congrats to PhD student Sam Patton who led the research work!

January 2019 Prof. Liu gave an invited seminar at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prof. Liu gave an invited talk in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at UC Santa Barbara, and shared recent research with colleagues on potable water reuse.