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. He is the Deputy Director of NC State’s Superfund Center “Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS” and is a member of the Center for Human Health and the Environment.

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. 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 Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Water Research Foundation, the North Carolina Water Resources Research Institute, and the North Carolina Urban Water Consortium.


Assessing the Effectiveness of Point-of-Use Residential Drinking Water Filters for Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs)
Herkert, N. J., Merrill, J., Peters, C., Bollinger, D., Zhang, S., Hoffman, K., … Stapleton, H. M. (2020), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LETTERS, 7(3), 178–184.
Assessment of the breakthrough of micropollutants in full-scale granular activated carbon adsorbers by rapid small-scale column tests and a novel pilot-scale sampling approach
Merle, T., Knappe, D. R. U., Pronk, W., Vogler, B., Hollender, J., & Gunten, U. (2020), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE-WATER RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY, 6(10), 2742–2751.
Degradation Model for the Tensile Strength of PVC and Rubber Gasket Materials Exposed to Benzene and PCE-Saturated Aqueous Solutions
Hosseini, P., Alhomair, S., Faeli, Z., Pour-Ghaz, M., Gabr, M., Knappe, D., & Parker, C. (2020), TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH RECORD.
Elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in Cape Fear River Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) are associated with biomarkers of altered immune and liver function
Guillette, T. C., McCord, J., Guillette, M., Polera, M. E., Rachels, K. T., Morgeson, C., … Belcher, S. M. (2020), ENVIRONMENT INTERNATIONAL, 136.
Enabling Organic Micropollutant Removal from Water by Full-Scale Biochar and Activated Carbon Adsorbers Using Predictions from Bench-Scale Column Data
Kearns, J., Dickenson, E., & Knappe, D. (2020), ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING SCIENCE.
GAC to BAC: Does it make chloraminated drinking water safer?
Cuthbertson, A. A., Kimura, S. Y., Liberatore, H. K., Knappe, D. R. U., Stanford, B., Summers, R. S., … Richardson, S. D. (2020), WATER RESEARCH, 172.
Measurement of Novel, Drinking Water-Associated PFAS in Blood from Adults and Children in Wilmington, North Carolina
Kotlarz, N., McCord, J., Collier, D., Lea, C. S., Strynar, M., Lindstrom, A. B., … Hoppin, J. A. (2020), ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES, 128(7).
Pilot scale removal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and precursors from AFFF-impacted groundwater by granular activated carbon
Rodowa, A. E., Knappe, D. R. U., Chiang, S.-Y. D., Pohlmann, D., Varley, C., Bodour, A., & Field, J. A. (2020), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE-WATER RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY, 6(4), 1083–1094.
Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class
Kwiatkowski, C. F., Andrews, D. Q., Birnbaum, L. S., Bruton, T. A., DeWitt, J. C., Knappe, D. R. U., … Blum, A. (2020), ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LETTERS, 7(8), 532–543.
1,4-Dioxane in drinking water: emerging for 40 years and still unregulated
McElroy, A. C., Hyman, M. R., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2019), Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health, 7, 117–125.

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Occurrence and Fate of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in North Carolina Agricultural Systems
NC Department of Justice (NCDOJ)(1/01/21 - 12/31/23)
Development of a Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Systems Analysis Tool (SAT) to Assist in Prioritization of Destruction Research and Management Decisions
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(6/11/20 - 9/30/20)
Thermal Reactivation of Spent GAC from PFAS Remediation Sites
Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)(12/16/20 - 2/28/21)
Field Evaluation of Hardening Methods for Subsurface Utilities and Drainage Pipes
NC Department of Transportation(8/01/19 - 7/31/21)
Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS
National Institutes of Health (NIH)(2/28/20 - 1/31/21)
An Electroactive Point-of-Use Filter for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Contaminant Removal
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(10/01/19 - 8/15/21)
Investigation of Treatment Alternatives for Short-Chain Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances
Water Research Foundation(3/01/19 - 3/01/22)
PFAS UNITEDD: U.S. National Investigation of Transport & Exposure from Drinking Water & Diet
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(5/01/19 - 4/30/22)
Impacts of GenX (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)-propanoate) on reproductive function and transcriptome signature in Caenorhabditis elegans
NCSU Center for Human Health and the Environment(6/01/18 - 3/31/20)
Collaborative Research: Cyclodextrin-Based 2D Materials for the Treatment of Legacy and Emerging Perfluoroalkyl Substances
National Science Foundation (NSF)(8/15/18 - 7/31/21)