Erica Pensini, PhD, P.Eng

Research Interests

My research interests are at the crossroads between the oil&gas, environmental and chemical engineering sectors. They encompass green process engineering, soil remediation, water treatment, colloid, polymer, emulsion and interface science.


  • ENGG1100 Engineering Design I
  • ENGG2560 Environmental Engineering Systems
  • ENGG6260 Colloids, Interfaces and Emulsions: Concepts and Practical Applications
  • ENGG4240 Site Remediation

Research Projects

Reactive Gels for Soil /Groundwater Remediation

Soil and groundwater contamination is a significant issue in Canada, in which there are over 10,000 contaminated sites (Treasury Board of Canada). The majority of the existing remediation technologies do not allow simultaneously treating and immobilizing the contaminants, thus preventing their migration during the treatment. Our goal is to fill this gap by simultaneously immobilizing and treating subsurface contaminants. We are currently working on the development of reactive polymeric gels with tunable viscosity. The low viscosity of the gel in the clean zones facilitates its transport, while their high viscosity around the contaminated areas impedes contaminant migration. Reactive species embedded in the gel favour the degradation of the immobilized contaminants, allowing their remediation in situ.

Precision in Soil Remediation: Emulsions and Capsules for the Targeted Delivery of Reactive Species

Many in situ soil remediation technologies rely on adequate delivery of reactive species to the polluted zones and on the fact that the functionality of the reagents remains intact when they migrate in the subsurface. However, reactive species may undergo undesired reactions before the polluted zones are reached, losing their ability to degrade the contaminants. The scope of the project is to emulsify or encapsulate the reactive species to promote their migration in the clean zones and allow them to be released on demand in the contaminated areas.

Phosphorus Removal from Agricultural Runoff Water

Natural sobents are being developed to remove phosphorus from agricultural run-off water collected in ditches, with the goal of mitigating the ingress of nutrients to Lake Erie. Following phosphorus sorption, phosphorus can be recovered from these sorbent materials and applied on the agricultural fields, hence offsetting the costs of the phosphorus removal technology.


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