Steve Comfort

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Expertise & Interests
  • Grants
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  • Courses Taught
  • Outreach
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Title Geology & Soils Faculty Area Leader
Address 205 Kiesselbach Crop Research Laboratory
1870 North 37th Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0915
Phone 402-472-1502 & Lab 472-6540
FAX 402-472-7904
E-mail scomfort1@unl.edu
Vitae Download file

Hi, I'm Steve Comfort, a soil environmental chemist and professor in the School of Natural Resources (SNR).

I am associated with the Water and Geology and Soils Faculties in SNR and coordinate the Environmental Restoration Science major at UNL.

My interests are in understanding the fate and transport of organic chemicals in the environment and devising remediation strategies for contaminated soil and water.

Accidental spills and discharges of farm chemicals and industrial solvents take place each year. When these events occur, normally beneficial chemicals become sources of contamination for ground and surface water. Although the soil-water environment has an enormous potential to naturally attenuate (adsorb, degrade) these foreign substances, this capacity can be exceeded when chemicals are deliberately or inadvertently released to localized areas. To combat these point sources of contamination, our research attempts to devise treatments that can remove these contaminants or alter their chemical structure so that natural attenuation can proceed. Examples of our work include both field-scale treatment of pesticide-contaminated soils and the use of chemical oxidants to treat contaminated groundwater.

Our recent efforts are focusing on developing techniques to remove volatile organic compounds from low permeable zones in aquifers.

My primary teaching responsibility is devoted to teaching an undergraduate course entitled "Soils, Environment and Water Quality." This course is now being offered online for distance education. In the past, I have taught a graduate-level course entitled "Soil Environmental Chemistry" and have been involved in outreach activities that provide in-depth training on the fate of chemicals in soils and groundwater to individuals associated with pesticide application or installation of septic systems in the state of Nebraska.

Steve Comfort
Steve Comfort Treatment of DNAPL in low permeable zone. Click Here for larger image
In Situ Chemical Oxidation  of Contaminated Groundwater In Situ Chemical Oxidation of Contaminated Groundwater
Field-Scale Treatment of  Pesticide-Contaminated Soil Field-Scale Treatment of Pesticide-Contaminated Soil

Environmental Restoration Science Program (Major)

Student Project

Lindy Rauscher, an environmental restoration science major, worked with environmental chemist Steve Comfort and his graduate students on an award-winning UCARE project, investigating the use of permanganate to remediate PAH-contaminated water.

Lindy Rauscher poster

The video below follows Mandi Conway, an SNR undergraduate in Environmental Restoration Science, as she and graduate students help with a clean-up site in Cozad, Nebraska. Dr. Steve Comfort, ERS faculty, explains how the program gives students the skills to repair environmental damage.



Alumni Profiles

What can you do with a degree in Environmental Restoration Science? Recent graduate John Dinneen works for an environmental remediation company in Wisconsin and was recently in Sargent, Nebraska to work to remove harmful chemicals at a gas station site.

 

Permanganate Candle

3-ft permanganate-wax candles

3-ft permanganate-wax candles

Candles placed in designated wells

Candles placed in designated wells

Candles inserted directly into formation via DPT

Candles inserted directly into formation via DPT

 

Selected Publications

Chokejaroenrata, C., S.D. Comfort, C. Sakulthaew, and B. Dvorak. 2014. Improving the treatment of non-aqueous phase TCE in low permeability zones with permanganate. J. Hazardous Materials 268:177-184.
Chokejaroenrat Chanat, Negin Kananizadeh, Chainarong Sakulthaew, Steve Comfort, and Yusong Li. 2013. Improving the sweeping efficiency of permanganate into low permeable zones to treat TCE: Experimental results and model development. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47:13031-13038
Christenson, M.D., A. Kambhu, and S.D. Comfort. 2012. Using slow-release permanganate candles to remove TCE from a low permeable aquifer at a former landfill. Chemosphere 89:680-687.
Halihan, T., J. Albano, S.D. Comfort, and V.A. Zlotnik. 2012. Electrical resistivity imaging of a permanganate injection during in situ treatment of RDX-contaminated groundwater. Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation 32:43-52.
Kambhu, A., S. Comfort, C. Chokejaroenrat, and C. Chainarong. 2012. Developing slow-release persulfate candles to treat BTEX contaminated water. Chemosphere 89:656-664.
Rauscher, Lindy, Chainarong Sakulthaew, and Steve Comfort. 2012. Using slow-release permanganate candles to remediate PAH-contaminated water. J. Hazard. Materials 241-242:441-449.
Chokejaroenrat, C., S.D. Comfort, C. Harris, D. Snow, D. Cassada, C. Sakulthaew, and T. Satapanajaru. 2011. Transformation of Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) by Permanganate. Environ. Sci. Technol., 45:3643-3649
Kalderis, D, A. Juhasz, R. Boopathy, and S.D. Comfort. 2011. Soil contaminated by explosives - environmental fate and evaluation of state of the art remediation processes (IUPAC Technical Report). Pure and Applied Chemistry. 83:1407-1484
Albano, J. S.D. Comfort, V. Zlotnik, T. Halihan, M. Burbach, C. Chokejaroenrat, S. Onanong, W. Clayton. 2010. In Situ Chemical Oxidation of RDX-Contaminated Ground Water with Permanganate at the Nebraska Ordnance Plant. Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation 30:96-106.
Boparai, H.K., S.D. Comfort, T. Satapanajaru, J.E. Szecsody, P.R. Grossl and P.J. Shea. 2010. Abiotic transformation of high explosives by freshly precipitated iron minerals in aqueous FeII solutions. Chemosphere, 79:865-872.
Satapanajaru, T., S. Onanong, S.D. Comfort, D.D. Snow, D.A. Cassada, and C. Harris. 2009. Remediating dinoseb-contaminated soil with zerovalent iron. J. Hazardous Materials 168:930-937.
Waria, M., S.D. Comfort, S. Onanong, T. Satapanajaru, H. Boparai, C. Harris, D. Snow, and D.A. Cassada. 2009. Field-scale cleanup of atrazine and cyanazine contaminated soil with a combined chemical-biological approach. J. Environ. Qual.38: 1803-1811.
Boparai, H.K., P.J. Shea, S.D. Comfort, and T.A. Machacek. 2008. Sequencing zerovalent iron treatment with carbon amendments to remediate agrichemical-contaminated soil. Water, Air and Soil Pollution.193:189-196.
Boparai, H.K., S.D. Comfort, P.J. Shea, and J.E. Szecsody. 2008. Remediating explosive-contaminated groundwater by in situ redox manipulation (ISRM) of aquifer sediments. Chemosphere 71:933-941.
Onanong, S. S.D. Comfort, P.D. Burrow, and P.J. Shea. 2007. Using gas-phase molecular descriptors to predict dechlorination rates of chloroalkanes by zerovalent iron. Environ. Sci. Technol.41:1200-1205.
Adam, M.A., S.D. Comfort, D.D. Snow, D. Cassada, M.C. Morley, and W. Clayton. 2006. Evaluating ozone as a remedial treatment for removing RDX from unsaturated soils. Journal of Environmental Engineering.132:1580-1588.
Boparai, H.K., P.J. Shea, S.D. Comfort, and D.D. Snow. 2006. Dechlorinating chloroacetanilide herbicides by dithionite-treated aquifer sediment and surface soil. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40:3043-3049.
Onanong, S., P.D. Burrow, S.D. Comfort, and P.J. Shea. 2006. Electron capture detector response and dissociative electron attachment cross sections in chloroalkanes and chloroalkenes. J. Phys. Chem. A 110:4363-4368.
Adam, M.L., S.D. Comfort, T.C. Zhang, and M.C. Morley. 2005. Evaluating Biodegradation as a Primary and Secondary Treatment for Removing RDX (Hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) from a Perched Aquifer. Bioremediation Journal 9:9-19.
Comfort, S.D. 2005. Remediating RDX and HMX Contaminated Soil and Water. In M. Fingerman and R. Nagabhushanam (eds) Bioremediation of Aquatic and Terrestrial EcoSystems. Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield, NH p. 263-310.
Park, J., S.D. Comfort, P.J. Shea, and J.S. Kim. 2005. Increasing Fe0-mediated HMX destruction in highly contaminated soil with didecyldimethylammonium bromide surfactant. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:9683-9688.

Educational Background

  • BS - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Soil Science and Agricultural-Extension Education (1981)
  • MS - University of Minnesota, Soil Science (1984)
  • PhD - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Soil Science (1988)

SNR Faculty Area(s)

Expertise

  • Groundwater - Remediation
  • Restoration - AAGeneral
  • Restoration - Groundwater Remediation

Areas of Interest (Keyword)

  • Soils - Chemistry
  • Soils - Fate/Transport
  • Water - Chemistry

Other Areas of Interest

Soil and Water Chemistry, Organic Chemicals, Fate and Transport of Remediation of Contaminated Soil and Water, Environmental Soil Analysis

Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant Title Nebraska Water Resource 104B 2011
Starting Date 3/1/2011
Principal Investigators
Steve Comfort
Ending Date 2/28/2015
Funding Level $12,000.00
Funding Source US Geological Survey

 

Undergraduate Majors Bachelor of Science in
  • Environmental Restoration Science
Graduate Program(s) Master of Science with a Specialization in
  • Hydrologic Sciences
  • Soil Science
Doctor of Philosophy with a Specialization in
  • Hydrologic Sciences
  • Soil Science

Courses Taught in the Current Semester
Course Number Course Title Day Time Cross Listing
NRES 361 Soils, Environment and Water Quality ARR ARR AGRO/WATS/SOIL/GEOL 361
WATS 361 Soils, Environment and Water Quality ARR ARR AGRO/GEOL/NRES/SOIL/WATS 361
Courses Taught
Course Number Course Title Fall Even Years Fall Odd Years Spring Even Years Spring Odd Years Summer Session Cross Listing
NRES 361 Soils, Environment and Water Quality X X AGRO/WATS/SOIL/GEOL 361
NRES 451 Soil Environmental Chemistry - will be taught when Dr. Comfort tells me X X ENVE 851, NRES 851
NRES 851 Soil Environmental Chemistry X X ENVE 851, NRES 451
NRES 996A Research in Soils X X X X AGRO 996A
WATS 361 Soils, Environment and Water Quality X X AGRO/GEOL/NRES/SOIL/WATS 361