Bing Chen, Ph.D., P.Eng., M.RSC-C, M.GYA

Northern Region Persistent Organic Pollution Control (NRPOP) Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada, A1B 3X5


Offshore oil spills are of tremendous concern due to the long-term negative impacts on ecological and socio-economic systems. Some recent major spills (e.g., 2010 BP oil spill) have triggered worldwide consciousness of offshore oil spill preparedness and response and recognition of pressing needs in innovative research to improve response efficiency. This talk will provide an overview of the current response practices and challenges, and then introduce two groups of new approaches that represent some recent research progress and achievements in offshore oil spill response decision making and cleanup technologies in the NRPOP Lab at the Memorial University in Canada:

1) The efficiency of spill responses depends much on how sound the response decisions can be made dynamically at both systematic/holistic (e.g., resources management at response centres) and individual levels (e.g., operations of skimmers and booms on site). New/improved offshore oil spill response decision making approaches have been developed and demonstrated, based on the integration of spill vulnerability/risk assessment, spill weathering and trajectory modeling, cleanup technology screening, cleanup operational control, and response system optimization. Climatic and oceanic conditions, oil transport and fate, timing, cost efficiency, and locations/limitations of resources (e.g., response devices and manpower) can be comprehensively and dynamically reflected in the decision process. By further incorporating stochastic probabilities, fuzzy memberships and interval sets, uncertain information associated with the response systems, modeling process and human judgment can be effectively addressed when pursuing the optimum response decisions.

2) Preeminent effectiveness and feasibility of dispersants have made them widely used in offshore oil spill cleanup. However, the public concerns about the chemically synthetic dispersants are growing, due to their toxicity and persistency in the ecosystem. Biosurfactant-based dispersants (or biodispersants) can be a promising alternative, offering the proven features of significantly lower toxicity and persistency combined with high effectiveness in breaking down oil slicks into small droplets for biodegradation. Over 100 strains with strong capacity in producing biosurfactants have been isolated and cultured, and some are further improved with genomic engineering techniques to achieve high productivity and dispersion effectiveness. A set of new biodispersants have been successfully developed and tested. In comparison with chemical dispersants, they show comparable (even better) dispersion effectiveness and stability, no/less toxicity, and higher biodegradability. They are especially suitable for applications in the marine environments with high risk of oil spills under harsh environmental conditions.

Dr. Bing Chen is currently a Full Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Director of the Northern Region Persistent Organic Pollution Control (NRPOP) Laboratory, and Advisor of the Environmental Systems Engineering and Management Program at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Canada. He obtained his B.Eng. and M.Sc. degrees from Jilin University and Peking University in China, respectively, and his Ph.D. degree from University of Regina in Canada. He worked as NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at University of British Columbia in Canada and conducted visiting research in Environment Canada before joining Memorial in 2006.

Dr. Chen’s research areas mainly focus on oil spill responses and cleanup, environmental emergency response, advanced wastewater treatment and reuse, decision making under uncertainty, impact and risk assessment, environmental nano/biotechnology, site remediation, watershed modeling and management, waste management, and environmental sustainability. He has acted as PI or Co-PI in over 40 research projects and contracts. He has authored or co-authored more than 270 technical publications, including over 80 refereed journal articles. He is the founding director of the NRPOP Lab, a first of its kind in Canada. The lab focuses on innovative, cross-disciplinary research on quantitative understanding of persistent and toxic pollution and effects and on development of innovative engineering and managerial solutions by integration of environmental engineering with nano/biological technologies and coupling of risk-simulation-optimization methods.

Dr. Chen has received many prestigious awards and honors, such as induction into the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, and the Global Young Academy (GYA), Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leaders Opportunity Fund Awards, Terra Nova Young Innovator Award, and FEAS Award for Research Excellence.


Meeting Recording (link coming soon)

Meeting Presentation (link coming soon)

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