Detlef Knappe


Detlef Knappe is a 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 member of the Drinking Water Committee of US EPA’s Science Advisory Board, a Trustee of the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA’s) Water Science and Research Division, a Topical Editor for the Open Access Journal Drinking Water Engineering and Science, and a member of 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.


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.
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., Pickett, A., Smith, C., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2016), Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 3(12), 415-419.
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.
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.
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.
Meeting multiple water quality objectives through treatment using locally generated char: Improving organoleptic properties and removing synthetic organic contaminants and disinfection by-products
Kearns, J. P., Shimabuku, K. K., Mahoney, R. B., Knappe, D. R. U., & Summers, R. S. (2015), Journal of water sanitation and hygiene for development, 5(3), 359-372.
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.
Fertilization of radishes, tomatoes, and marigolds using a large-volume atmospheric glow discharge
Lindsay, A., Byrns, B., King, W., Andhvarapou, A., Fields, J., Knappe, D., Fonteno, W., & Shannon, S. (2014), Plasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing, 34(6), 1271-1290.
Synthetic organic water contaminants in developing communities: An overlooked challenge addressed by adsorption with locally generated char
Kearns, J. P., Knappe, D. R. U., & Summers, R. S. (2014), Journal of water sanitation and hygiene for development, 4(3), 422-436.
2,4-D adsorption to biochars: Effect of preparation conditions on equilibrium adsorption capacity and comparison with commercial activated carbon literature data
Kearns, J. P., Wellborn, L. S., Summers, R. S., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2014), Water Research, 62, 20-28.

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Assessing impact of drinking water exposure to GenX (hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid) in the Cape Fear River Basin, North Carolina
National Institutes of Health (NIH)(11/01/17 - 10/31/18)
Collaborative Research: EAGER: Tailored sorbents for the removal of emerging per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances from water
National Science Foundation (NSF)(9/15/17 - 8/31/18)
Development of Appropriate Technologies to Treat Drinking Water Co-Contaminants Associated with Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin (CKDu)
NCSU Research and Innovation Seed Funding Program(1/01/17 - 12/31/17)
The effects of contaminated soil and groundwater on subsurface utilities, surface water and drainage
NC Department of Transportation(8/01/16 - 7/31/18)
A Low Cost Bio-sorption Material to Enhance Water Quality
NC Biotechnology Center(9/01/16 - 2/28/18)
Testing of water samples for perfluoroalkyl substances
HDR, Inc.(10/01/15 - 9/30/17)
EAGER: GOALIE: Perfluoro(poly)ethers - a new class of drinking water contaminants
National Science Foundation (NSF)(9/01/15 - 9/30/17)
Technical Support to Quantify Mobile-Immobile Mass Transfer
US Army - Corps of Engineers(7/13/15 - 7/13/18)
GAC Control of Regulated and Emerging DBPs of Health Concern
Water Research Foundation(2/05/15 - 3/18/17)
Center for Human Health and the Environment
National Institutes of Health (NIH)(4/20/15 - 3/31/18)