Detlef Knappe

S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor

Detlef Knappe is the S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NC State University. He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and he joined the NC State faculty in 1996.

Dr. Knappe is interested in drinking water quality and treatment, water reuse, organic micropollutants, development of water treatment processes for polar and persistent organic pollutants, and the fate of organic pollutants in solid waste landfills. He is a Trustee of the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA’s) Water Science and Research Division, and he is a member of the North Carolina Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board. He serves as Associate Editor for AWWA Water Science and is a Topical Editor for the Open Access Journal Drinking Water Engineering and Science. He also serves on the AWWA’s Organic Contaminants Research Committee and the Standards Committee for Activated Carbon.

Detlef Knappe and his students have been the recipients of numerous best paper, best poster, and best thesis awards. He is a recipient of the NCSU Outstanding Teacher Award, the Bill Horn Kimley-Horn Faculty Award for excellence in graduate and undergraduate teaching and other accomplishments at NC State University, and the Young Civil Engineer Achievement Award from the University of Illinois.


Ph.D. 1996

Environmental Engineering

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

M.S. 1991

Environmental Engineering

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

B.S. 1989

Civil Engineering, University of Illinois

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Research Description

Dr. Knappe has conducted research on water treatment processes for over 25 years. Current research efforts focus on (1) developing and evaluating physical-chemical treatment processes for the control of disinfection byproduct precursors and trace organic compounds (taste and odor causing substances, carcinogenic volatile organic contaminants, 1,4-dioxane, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, endocrine disrupting chemicals, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutically active compounds), and (2) overcoming gaps between the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act by developing information about the effects of reactive and unregulated wastewater contaminants on drinking water quality and treatment. Funding agencies that have supported or are currently supporting his research include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Water Research Foundation, the North Carolina Water Resources Research Institute, and the North Carolina Urban Water Consortium.


Does Granular Activated Carbon with Chlorination Produce Safer Drinking Water? From Disinfection Byproducts and Total Organic Halogen to Calculated Toxicity
Cuthbertson, A. A., Kimura, S. Y., Liberatore, H. K., Summers, R. S., Knappe, D. R. U., Stanford, B. D., … Richardson, S. D. (2019), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, 53(10), 5987–5999.
Effects of Co-occurring Species Present in Swine Lagoons on Adsorption of Copper on Eggshell
Hess, B. J., Kolar, P., Classen, J. J., Knappe, D., & Cheng, J. J. (2019), INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, 13(4), 613–622.
Fate of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Ether Acids in the Total Oxidizable Precursor Assay and Implications for the Analysis of Impacted Water
Zhang, C., Hopkins, Z. R., McCord, J., Strynar, M. J., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2019), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LETTERS, 6(11), 662–668.
High Temperature Co-pyrolysis Thermal Air Activation Enhances Biochar Adsorption of Herbicides from Surface Water
Kearns, J. P., Shimabuku, K. K., Knappe, D. R. U., & Summers, R. S. (2019), ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING SCIENCE, 36(6), 710–723.
Prediction of full-scale GAC adsorption of organic micropollutants
Kennedy, A. M., Reinert, A. M., Knappe, D. R. U., & Summers, R. S. (2017), Environmental Engineering Science, 34(7), 496–507.
Determination of 1,4-dioxane in the Cape Fear River watershed by heated purge-and-trap preconcentration and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
Sun, M., Lopez-Velandia, C., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2016), Environmental Science & Technology, 50(5), 2246–2254.
Environmental comparison of biochar and activated carbon for tertiary wastewater treatment
Thompson, K. A., Shimabuku, K. K., Kearns, J. P., Knappe, D. R. U., Summers, R. S., & Cook, S. M. (2016), Environmental Science & Technology, 50(20), 11253–11262.
Legacy and emerging perfluoroalkyl substances are important drinking water contaminants in the Cape Fear River watershed of North Carolina
Sun, M., Arevalo, E., Strynar, M., Lindstrom, A., Richardson, M., Kearns, B., … Knappe, D. R. U. (2016), Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 3(12), 415–419.
Feasibility of using traditional kiln charcoals in low-cost water treatment: Role of pyrolysis conditions on 2,4-d herbicide adsorption
Kearns, J. P., Knappe, D. R. U., & Summers, R. S. (2015), Environmental Engineering Science, 32(11), 912–921.
Full- and pilot-scale GAC adsorption of organic micropollutants
Kennedy, A. M., Reinert, A. M., Knappe, D. R. U., Ferrer, I., & Summers, R. S. (2015), Water Research, 68, 238–248.

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