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.


Improved Darcian streambed measurements to quantify flux and mass discharge of volatile organic compounds from a contaminated aquifer to an urban stream
Nickels, J. L., Genereux, D. P., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2023), JOURNAL OF CONTAMINANT HYDROLOGY, 253.
Pilot-scale biofiltration of 1,4-dioxane at drinking water-relevant concentrations
McElroy, A. C., Ogles, M. E., Hyman, M. R., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2023), WATER RESEARCH, 231.
Removal and destruction of perfluoroalkyl ether carboxylic acids (PFECAs) in an anion exchange resin and electrochemical oxidation treatment train
Fang, Y., Meng, P., Schaefer, C., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2023), WATER RESEARCH, 230.
Source apportionment of serum PFASs in two highly exposed communities
Wallis, D. J., Barton, K. E., Knappe, D. R. U., Kotlarz, N., McDonough, C. A., Higgins, C. P., … Adgate, J. L. (2023), SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 855.
Diffusion of benzene and tetrachloroethylene through saturated cement paste
Hosseini, P., McElroy, A., Knappe, D. R. U., Gabr, M., & Pour-Ghaz, M. (2022), CONSTRUCTION AND BUILDING MATERIALS, 329.
Drinking Water-Associated PFAS and Fluoroethers and Lipid Outcomes in the GenX Exposure Study
Rosen, E. M., Kotlarz, N., Knappe, D. R. U., Lea, C. S., Collier, D. N., Richardson, D. B., & Hoppin, J. A. (2022), ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES, 130(9).
Extraction and Matrix Cleanup Method for Analyzing Novel Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Ether Acids and Other Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Fruits and Vegetables
Meng, P., DeStefano, N. J., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2022), JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD CHEMISTRY, 70(16), 4792–4804.
Impact of ozone-biologically active filtration on the breakthrough of Perfluoroalkyl acids during granular activated carbon treatment of municipal wastewater effluent
Vatankhah, H., Tajdini, B., Milstead, R. P., Clevenger, E., Murray, C., Knappe, D., … Bellona, C. (2022), WATER RESEARCH, 223.
Mechanisms of orthophosphate removal from water by lanthanum carbonate and other lanthanum-containing materials
Zhi, Y., Paterson, A. R., Call, D. F., Jones, J. L., Hesterberg, D., Duckworth, O. W., … Knappe, D. R. U. (2022), SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT, 820.
PFAS Challenges and Novel Research A Conversation With the Editorial Board of the AWWA Water Science Topical Collection on PFAS Analytics and Treatment
Crimi, M., Speth, T. F., Chowdhury, Z. K., Dickenson, E. R. V., Knappe, D. R. U., & Liu, J. (2022, September), JOURNAL AWWA, Vol. 114, pp. 13–22.

View all publications via NC State Libraries

View publications on Google Scholar


Studying the Fate of PFAS through Sewage Sludge Incinerators
Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD)(3/28/22 - 6/30/23)
TSA: Testing PFAS Removal in Pilot-Scale Granular Activated Carbon Columns and Bench-Scale Ion Exchange Columns
Hazen and Sawyer(8/01/21 - 7/31/22)
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)(3/22/21 - 3/31/22)
Occurrence and Fate of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in North Carolina Agricultural Systems
NC Department of Justice (NCDOJ)(1/01/21 - 12/31/24)
Assessment of Pesticide Stability in Water and Analysis of Pesticide Degradates in Private Wells in North Carolina
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/21 - 8/31/22)
Novel Mass Spectrometry Approaches for the Identification of Pesticides and Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances in North Carolina Drinking Water Sources
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/21 - 2/28/23)
Highly Fluorinated Compounds – Social and Scientific Discovery: 3rd Annual Meeting
National Institutes of Health (NIH)(9/02/21 - 8/31/22)
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 - 12/16/23)
Occurrence of PFAS in US Wastewater Treatment Plants
Water Research Foundation(3/26/20 - 7/01/22)