Justin Birdwell

Biography

Education                        

Ph.D.     Chemical Engineering   2007       Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

B.S.        Chemical Engineering   2002       Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Professional Experience

Nov. 2011 - Present        Research Engineer, US Geological Survey

          Projects: Petroleum Processes (Task 4 leader); Produced Waters

Oct. 2009 - Oct. 2011       Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Engineer, US Geological Survey

          Project: Experimental and environmental study of in situ oil shale retorting

Jan. 2008 - Sept. 2009     Research Associate 4, Louisiana State University

          Research (50%): DOM characterization using fluorescence, landscape evolution (geomorphology), cyclodextrin-enhanced remediation of ground water

          Teaching duties (50%): Air Pollution, Unit Operations Laboratory, Environmental Thermodynamics and Kinetics

Aug. 2002 - Dec. 2007     Graduate Student/Research & Teaching Assistant, Louisiana State University

          Research: Desorption of PAH from contaminated sediments, characterization of sediment and soil OM by high res and low field NMR, DOM characterization using fluorescence

          Teaching duties: Heat & mass transfer, Environmental Chemodynamics, Engineering Measurements Laboratory

 

My background is in chemical engineering and analytical & environmental geochemistry. My research interests include the study of multiphase fate and transport of organic pollutants, the environmental impacts related to utilization of non-traditional hydrocarbon resources (e.g. shale gas, oil shale and tar sands), and the characterization of and geochemical processes related to natural organic matter.

 

I completed my PhD in Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 2007 and served as a research associate and instructor at that institution until the end of 2009. I am currently employed with the U.S. Geological Survey as a Research Engineer under the Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. My project is on the pyrolysis and environmental reclamation processes related to in situ oil shale retorting in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado.

The development of the oil shale resource in the western United States has long been viewed as a potential alternative to importing foreign crude oil to meet the nation’s liquid fuel needs, but has been hindered by the difficulty in extracting and processing the material and concerns over the environmental impact that would result from establishment of a large scale (>1 million barrels per day) oil shale industry. Currently, several major oil companies are developing technologies to make use of the rich oil shales in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming in ways that they hope will overcome the technical challenges of accessing the resource while attempting to minimize the environmental footprint of their operations. The technologies under development involve in-situ retorting, which is a method of extracting hydrocarbons from oil shale without having to first mine the rock. Such approaches may mitigate many of the problems that have hampered oil shale development. It is the goal of my research to develop laboratory protocols to assess the petroleum and environmental geochemistry of these in-situ processes in order to better understand the oil generation potential and environmental implications these technologies represent.

 

Manuscripts in Print (in order of publication date, *corresponding author)

Birdwell J.*, Cook R.L., Thibodeaux L.J., 2007, Desorption kinetics of hydrophobic organic chemicals from sediment to water: A review of data and models, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 23, pp. 424-434.

Birdwell J.E., Thibodeaux L.J.*, 2007, A kinetic model of short-term dissolved contaminant release during dredge-generated bed sediment resuspension, Environmental Engineering Science, Vol. 24, pp. 1431-1442.

Lattao C.V., Birdwell J.E., Wang J.J., Cook R.L.*, 2008, Studying organic matter molecular assemblage within a whole soil by NMR, Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 37, pp. 1501-1509.

Cook R.L.*Birdwell J.E., Lattao C.V., Lowry M., 2009, A multi-method comparison of Atchafalaya Basin surface water organic matter samples, Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 38, pp. 702-711.

Gao H., Blanford W.J.*Birdwell J.E., 2009, The pseudophase approach to assessing chemical partitioning in air-water-cyclodextrin systems, Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 43, pp. 2943-2949.

Birdwell J.E.*, Engel A.S., 2009, Variability in terrestrial and microbial contributions to dissolved organic matter fluorescence in the Edwards Aquifer, Central Texas, Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, Vol. 71, pp. 144-156 (Cover article).

Birdwell J.E.*, Thibodeaux L.J., 2009, PAH repartitioning in field-contaminated sediment following removal of the labile chemical fraction, Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 43, pp. 8092-8097.

Birdwell J.E.*, Engel A.S., 2010, Characterization of dissolved organic matter in cave and spring waters using UV-Vis absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy, Organic Geochemistry, Vol. 41, pp. 270-280.

Birdwell J.E.*, Valsaraj, K.T., 2010, Characterization of dissolved organic matter in fog water by excitation-emission matrix fluorescence spectroscopy, Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 44, pp. 3246-3253.

Birdwell J.E.*, 2012, Review of rare earth element concentrations in oil shales of the Eocene Green River Formation: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1016, 20 p.

Jin J.M., Kim S.*Birdwell J.E.*, 2012, Molecular characterization and comparison of shale oils generated by different pyrolysis methods, Energy & Fuels, Vol. 26, pp. 1054-1062.

 

Proceedings Papers (submitted in addition to conference abstract)

Birdwell J.E.*, Ruble T.E., Laughrey C.D., Roper D.R., Walker G., 2011, Differentiating organic carbon residues in spent oil shale, Colorado School of Mines 30th Oil Shale Symposium, Golden, CO, October.

Brannen K.M., Engel A.S., Birdwell J.E., 2009, Tracing the origins of chromophoric dissolved organic matter in karst aquifers (No. 09-0424), 15th International Congress of Speleology, Kerrville, TX, July.

 

Book Chapters

Birdwell J.E., Cook R.L., 2009, Studying Organic Matter and Water in Soils by NMR: Cautions and Insights (Ch. 4), Natural Organic Matter and Its Significance in the Environment, Edited by Xing B. and Wu F., The Science Press, Beijing.

Birdwell J.E., Marrero T.R., 2010, Estimating molecular diffusivities in environmental fluids (Ch. 5), in Handbook of Chemical Mass Transport in the Environment, Edited by Thibodeaux L.J. and Mackay D., CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), UK.

Thibodeaux L.J., Birdwell J.E., Reible D.D., 2010, Diffusive chemical transport across the sediment-water boundary layer (Ch. 12), in Handbook of Chemical Mass Transport in the Environment, Edited by Thibodeaux L.J. and Mackay D., CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), UK.

Birdwell J.E., Thibodeaux L.J., MacKay D., 2010, What’s missing in the environmental mass transport knowledge base: Immature fields, unresolved issues, and future directions (Ch. 21), in Handbook of Chemical Mass Transport in the Environment, Edited by Thibodeaux L.J. and Mackay D., CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), UK.

Abstracts from Professional Meetings and Conferences (*Presenter)

2011

Johnson R.C.*, Mercier T.J., Birdwell J.E., Assessments of in-place oil shale resources of the Eocene Green River Formation, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming-a foundation for calculating recoverable resources, Colorado School of Mines Workshop on Principles of Oil Shale Resource Assessment, Golden, CO, October.

Birdwell J.E.*, Technical and environmental aspects of oil shale assessment for western U.S. deposits, Colorado School of Mines 31st Oil Shale Symposium, Golden, CO, October.

Birdwell J.E.*, Lewan M.D., Mineralogical changes in Green River Formation oil shales following pyrolysis, Colorado School of Mines 31st Oil Shale Symposium, Golden, CO, October.

Boak J.*Birdwell J.E., Dawsonite breakdown reactions during pyrolysis in Green River Formation oil shales, Colorado School of Mines 31st Oil Shale Symposium, Golden, CO, October.

Jin J.M., Kim S., Birdwell J.E.*, Lewan M.D., Comparison of Green River Formation shale oils by Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry, Colorado School of Mines 31st Oil Shale Symposium, Golden, CO, October.

Mao J., Birdwell J.E.*, Cao X., Chappell M., Li Y., Characterization of oil shale, isolated kerogen, and post-pyrolysis residues using advanced 13C solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance, The Society for Organic Petrology 28th Annual Meeting, Halifax, NS, July.

Jin J.M., Kim S., Birdwell J.E.*, Molecular characterization and comparison of shale oils generated by different pyrolysis methods using FT-ICR mass spectrometry, 241st Annual Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Anaheim, CA, March.

2010

Birdwell J.E.*, Lewan M.D., Leaching of hazardous substances from retorted oil shale during high temperature water flushing, Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, October.

Hill R.J., Birdwell J.E.*, Lewan M.D., Evaluating byproducts of environmental concern in water generated during hydrous pyrolysis of oil shale, Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, October.

Boak, J.*Birdwell J.E., An introduction to issues in environmental geology of oil shale and tar sands, Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, October.

Birdwell J.E.*, Lewan M.D., Laboratory simulation of in situ oil shale retorting conditions to assess product yield and composition, Colorado School of Mines 30th Oil Shale Symposium, Golden, CO, October.

Birdwell J.E.*, Estimating thermal maturity, generation potential and mineralogical composition of oil shale and post-pyrolysis residues using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, The Society for Organic Petrology 27th Annual Meeting, Lakewood, CO, September.