James (Chip) Kilduff

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Kilduff's research interests include application of membrane and adsorption separation processes to potable water production, industrial wastewater treatment, and pollutant transport in the environment.
His research projects involve:
* Using ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membrane separation processes to control natural organic matter, including disinfection by-product precursors, and ionic pollutants
* The effects of macromolecule size and sorbent chemical characteristics on the uptake of natural organic matter by activated carbon
* The effects of background natural organic matter on the removal of trichloroethylene by activated carbon
* The effects of activated carbon surface properties on the uptake of priority pollutants and the solvent regeneration of phenol.
In one line of investigation, Kilduff and his group are developing membrane processes for potable water production. Although such processes are becoming more widely accepted and economical, membrane fouling still remains a significant problem. With Yanxiao Yuan, Kilduff is investigating the role of mixtures of polysaccarides, humic and fulvic acids, and inorganic colloids (including nanoparticles) on membrane flux and flux decline. Their objectives include the development of predictive models and operational strategies to minimize flux decline. With Mingyan Zhou, they are looking at how membrane properties such as surface morphology, RMS roughness, and feature size contribute to flux decline. They are collaborating with the Belfort group at RPI to developing ways to minimize flux decline via modification of membrane surface chemistry using UV-assisted graft polymerization of hydrophilic and charged monomers. Mingyan is leading an innovative approach employing high throughput technology borrowed from the biotechnology industry. The membrane group is also interested in developing ways to predict membrane rejection of natural organic matter and EPA candidate compounds using hindered transport models combined with the Nernst-Planck equation to account for solute and membrane charge.
In a second line of investigation, with Hyung Nam Lim Kilduff and his group are studying the role of adsorption in natural and engineered systems. With application to natural systems, soil and sediment organic matter plays a major role in the sorption and desorption of polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Such organic matter may coat mineral surfaces and may be adsorbed in nanometer-sized pore spaces. They are investigating the role of such confinement on sorption and desorption equilibrium; this research has application to risk assessment and remediation strategies. With application to water and wastewater treatment, they are investigating the efficacy of carbon nanotubes as adsorbents for organic compounds. This research involves developing ways to pretreat nanotubes to remove metal catalysts, ways to etch nanotubes using advanced oxidation processes to open internal surface area, ways to assess and control aggregation. Their objectives include the thermodynamic modeling of sorption equilibrium and identification of mechanisms including the role of pi-pi interactions.


Ph.D., University of Michigan
Environmental Engineering

Research Focus
  • Water Quality
  • Membrane Processes
Contact kilduff@rpi.edu