Chris Gorski's research group is using redox chemistry to solve environmental problems.

We are adapting the principles used in batteries and fuel cells to discover new ways to purify water, produce renewable, carbon-neutral electricity, increase the efficiencies of existing industrial practices, and mitigate climate change. We also study natural redox reactions and their environmental and geochemical implications. Our reseach has recently been covered in Scientific American,, C&EN, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) podcast, and Power Technology.

If you are interested in joining our group or collaborating, please email Chris.

The Team

Our lab's mission is to better understand and mitigate major environmental challenges while providing deep learning experiences for students and post-docs.

Responsive image
PI: Christopher Gorski

Chris has been an assistant professor at Penn State University since 2012. Before that, he was a post-doctoral scholar at Eawag in Switzerland. Over his career, he has gained an expertise in environmental redox chemistry, with emphases on electrochemistry and spectroscopy. View his CV here or his publications on google scholar.

Responsive image
Post-doc: Taeyoung Kim

Taeyoung has been in the group since January, 2015. He is co-advised by Chris and Bruce Logan. He is currently working on using electrochemical cells to desalinate water, harvest salinity gradient energy, and capture nutrients from wastewater.

Responsive image
PhD Student: Jenelle Fortunato

Jenelle joined the group in Fall 2016. She is co-advised by Chris and Bruce Logan. She is currently studying the properties of manganese oxide electrode used to desalinate water and harvest salinity gradient energy. She was recently awarded the Young Scientist Best Poster Award at the national Electrochemical Society in the Battery Division for her work on pH-gradient batteries.

Responsive image
PhD Student: Prachi Joshi

Prachi joined the lab in 2013. She is close to finishing her PhD on iron oxide recrystallization. Here CV can be downloaded here.

Responsive image
PhD Student: Mohammad (Mim) Rahimi

Mim joined the group in January 2015 as a PhD student in chemical engineering. He was co-advised by Chris and Bruce Logan. His dissertation research focused on converting low-grade waste heat to electricity, using a thermally regenerative ammonia battery. Mim successfully defended his PhD dissertation after 2 years and 10 months in September 2017. During his PhD, he authored and co-authored 11 peer-reviewed articles, including a review paper in the Energy & Environmental Science journal. He is going to start his new career as a postdoctoral research associate at MIT starting from February 2018. More information can be found at his website or in this video, where he explains his PhD research.


The goal of our lab's research is to better understand and mitigate major environmental challenges while providing deep learning experiences for students and post-docs. Some of the current projects we are working on are:

Water desalination and electricity production from salinity gradients using battery-inspired cells

Electricity can be used to convert salt water into freshwater and a concentrated brine. Similarly, mixing two waters with different salt concentrations can be used to produce electricity. We aim to make these conversions as efficient as possible using techniques borrowed from conventional batteries. We are particularly interested in developing novel electrode materials and water chemistries. This work is supported by the US NSF, Penn State University, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Interfacial Redox Chemistry

Many minerals contain metals, such as iron and manganese, that can participate in redox (i.e., electron transfer) reactions with dissolved species in water. These reacions can influence the fate of pollutants and nutrients in the environment, affect the global carbon cycle, and can be used to generate and store energy. We aim to characterize the mechanisms and thermodynamics of electron transfer reactions involving minerals to further our abilities to understand and exploit them (e.g., as electrode materials in batteries). This work is funded by the US NSF.

Stable Mineral Recrystallization

The isotopic and elemental compositions of minerals are used to reconstruct past conditions on Earth and other planets. Additionally, minerals can incorporate or release trace elements, which can be used for remediation purposes. Our team is interested in how a mineral's composition changes under equilibrium conditions. Recent work by our group and others have found that atoms within a mineral can isotopically mix with dissolved ions under apparent equilibrium conditions. Remarkably, this exchange occurs without any major changes in the mineral's structure, shape, or size. This work is funded by the US NSF.

Teaching and Outreach

Dr. Gorski regularly teaches the following classes at Penn State. Course materials will be shared upon request.

  • CE 370: Introduction to Environmental Engineering - This course uses a combination of lecturing and in-class problem solving to provide an introduction to fundamental and current topics in Environmental Engineering. The course goals are to: (i) provide students with the “toolsets” to quantitatively evaluate and discuss environmental issues, (ii) provide students with the resources necessary to develop a personalized answer to the question: “What role will environmental issues play in my personal and professional lives?” and (iii) prepare students to succeed on the Environmental Engineering section of the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam.

  • CE 556: Environmental Electrochemistry - This course introduces students to the field of electrochemistry and applications of electrochemical techniques and principles to environmental engineering and science. The overall goal of the course is to enable students to critically evaluate environmental electrochemical literature and to design and develop their own experimental systems..

  • CE 570: Aquatic Chemistry - This course provides students with the conceptual frameworks and techniques necessary to evaluate chemical reactions in aquatic systems. Topics covered in this course include: chemical equilibrium thermodynamics, acid-base chemistry, metal complexation, mineral precipitation and dissolution, reduction-oxidation reactions and heterogeneous reactions that occur at solid-water interfaces.

Our group works closely with the Penn State College of Science Office of Outreach and Engagement to engage young students in topics related to our research, including an annual summer camp called Water Heroes. A video from the camp in 2016 can be viewed here Course materials are available upon request.


The most up-to-date list of our publications can be found on google scholar.

Journal Articles

  1. Rahimi, M., Straub, A.P., Zhang, F., Zhu, X., Elimelech, M., Gorski, C.A., Logan, B.E. (2018). Emerging electrochemical and membrane-based systems to convert low-grade heat to electricity. Energy & Environmental Science. In press. (website).

  2. Aeppli, M., Voegelin, A., Gorski, C.A., Hofstetter, T.B., Sander, M. (2018). Mediated electrochemical reduction of iron (oxyhydr-) oxides under defined thermodynamic boundary conditions. Environmental Science & Technology. 52. 560.570. (website).

  3. Xiong, B., Miller, Z., Roman-White, S., Tasker, T., Farina, B., Piechiwicz, Burgos, W.D., Joshi, P., Zhu, L., Gorski, C.A., Zydney, A.L., Kumar, M. (2018). Chemical Degradation of Polyacrylamide during Hydraulic Fracturing. Environmental Science & Technology 52. 327-336. (website).

  4. Rahimi, M., Kim, T., Gorski, C.A., Logan, B.E. (2018). A thermally regenerative ammonia battery with carbon-silver electrodes for converting low-grade waste heat to electricity. Journal of Power Sources. 373. 95-102. (website).

  5. Kim, T., Gorski, C.A., Logan, B.E. (2017). Low Energy Desalination Using Battery Electrode Deionization. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 4. 444-449. (website).

  6. Joshi, P. Fantle, M.S., Larese-Casanova, P., Gorski, C.A. (2017). Susceptibility of Goethite to Fe2+-Catalyzed Recrystallization over Time. Environmental Science & Technology. 51. 11681-11691. (website).

  7. Rahimi, M., D'Angelo, A., Gorski, C.A., Scialdone, O., Logan, B.E. (2017). Electrical power production from low-grade waste heat using a thermally regenerative ethylenediamine battery. Journal of Power Sources. 351. 45-50. (website, PDF).

  8. Kim, T., Logan, B.E., Gorski, C.A. (2017). High power densities created from salinity differences by combining electrode and Donnan potentials in a concentration flow cell. Energy & Environmental Science. 10. 1003-1012. (website, PDF).

  9. Schaefer, M.V., Guo, X., Gan, Y., Benner, S.G., Griffin, A.M., Gorski, C.A., Wang, Y., Fendorf, S. (2017). Redox Controls on Arsenic Enrichment and Release from Aquifer Sediments in Central Yangtze River Basin. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 204. 104-119. (website, PDF).

  10. Kim, T., Logan, B.E., Gorski, C.A. (2017). A pH-gradient flow cell for converting waste CO2 into electricity. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 4. 49-53. (website, PDF).

  11. Zhu, X., Kim, T., Rahimi, M., Gorski, C.A., Logan, B.E. (2017). Integrating reverse‐electrodialysis stacks with flow batteries to achieve improved energy recovery from salinity gradients and energy storage. ChemSusChem. 10. 797-803. (website, PDF).

  12. Rahimi, M., Zhu, L., Kowalski, K.L., Zhu, X., Gorski, C.A., Hickner, M.A., Logan, B.E. (2017). Improved electrical power production of thermally regenerative batteries using a poly (phenylene oxide) based anion exchange membrane. Journal of Power Sources. 342. 956-963. (website, PDF).

  13. Gorski, C.A., Fantle, M.S. (2016). Stable Mineral Recrystallization in Low Temperature Aqueous Systems: A Critical Review. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 198. 439-465. (website, PDF).

  14. Rahimi, M., Schoener, Z., Zhu, X., Zhang, F., Gorski, C.A., Logan, B.E. (2017). Removal of copper from water using a thermally regenerative electrodeposition battery. Journal of Hazardous Materials. 322. 551-556. (website, PDF).

  15. Kim, T., Rahimi, M., Logan, B.E., Gorski, C.A. (2016). Harvesting energy from salinity differences using battery electrodes in a concentration flow cell. Environmental Science & Technology. 50. 9791-9797. (website, PDF). Press Coverage in C&EN.

  16. Gorski, C.A., Edwards, R., Sander, M., Hofstetter, T.B., Stewart, S.E. (2016). Thermodynamic characterization of iron oxide - aqueous Fe2+ redox couples. Environmental Science & Technology. 50. 8538-8547. (website, PDF).

  17. Joshi, P., Gorski, C.A. (2016). Anisotropic morphological changes in goethite during Fe2+-catalyzed recrystallization. Environmental Science & Technology. 50. 7315-7324. (website, PDF).

  18. Tomaszewski, E.J., Cornk, S.S., Gorski, C.A., Ginder-Vogel, M. (2016). The role of dissolved Fe(II) concentration in the mineralogical evolution of Fe (hydr)oxides during redox cycling. Chemical Geology. 438. 163-170. (website, PDF).

  19. Kar, A., McEldrew, M., Stout, R.F., Mays, B.E., Khair, A., Velegol, D., Gorski, C.A. (2016). Self-Generated Electrokinetic Fluid Flows during Pseudomorphic Mineral Replacement Reactions. Langmuir. In press. (website, PDF).

  20. Wu, T., Griffin, A.M., Gorski, C.A., Shelobolina, E.S., Xu, H., Kukkadapu, R.K., Roden, E.E. (2017). Interactions between Fe(III)-oxides and Fe(III)-phyllosilicates during microbial reduction 2: Natural subsurface sediments. Geomicrobiology Journal. 34. 231-241. (website, PDF).

  21. Kim, T., Rahimi, M., Logan, B.E., Gorski, C.A. (2016). Evaluating battery-like reactions to harvest energy from salinity differences using ammonium bicarbonate salt solutions. ChemSusChem. 9. 981-988. (website, PDF).

  22. Zhu, X., Rahimi, M., Gorski, C.A., Logan, B.E. (2016). A thermally-regenerative ammonia-based flow battery for electrical energy recovery from waste heat. ChemSusChem. 9. 873-879. (website, PDF).

  23. Wu, T., Kukkadapu, R.K., Griffin, A.M., Gorski, C.A., Konishi, H., Xu, H., Roden, E.E. (2016). Interactions between Fe(III)-oxides and Fe(III)-phyllosilicates during microbial reduction 1: Synthetic sediments. Geomicrobiology Journal. In Press. (website, PDF).

  24. O'Loughlin, E.J., Gorski, C.A., Scherer, M.M. (2015). Effects of Phosphate on Secondary Mineral For-mation during the Bioreduction of Akaganeite (β-FeOOH): Green Rust versus Framboidal Magnetite. Current Inorganic Chemistry. 5. 214-224. (website, PDF).

  25. Sander, M., Hofstetter, T.B., Gorski, C.A. (2015). Electrochemical Analyses of Redox-Active Iron Minerals: A Review of Nonmediated and Mediated Approaches. (Critical Review) Environmental Science & Technology. 49. 5862–5878. (website, PDF).

  26. Luan, F., Gorski, C.A., Burgos, W.D. (2015). Linear Free Energy Relationships for the Biotic and Abiotic Reduction of Nitroaromatic Compounds. Environmental Science & Technology. 49. 3557-3565. (website, PDF).

  27. Luan, F., Liu, Y., Griffin, A., Gorski, C.A., Burgos, W.D. (2015). Iron(III)-Bearing Clay Minerals Enhance Bioreduction of Nitrobenzene by Shewanella putrefaciens CN32. Environmental Science & Technology. 49. 1418–1426. (website, PDF).

  28. Soltermann, D., Marques Fernandes, M., Baeyens, B., Dähn, R., Joshi, P.A., Scheinost, A.C., Gorski, C.A. (2014). Fe(II) Uptake on Natural Montmorillonites. I. Macroscopic and Spectroscopic Characterization. Environmental Science & Technology. 48. 8688-8697. (website, PDF).

  29. Luan, F., Gorski, C.A., Burgos, W.D. (2014). Thermodynamic Controls on the Microbial Reduction of Iron-Bearing Nontronite and Uranium. Environmental Science & Technology. 48. 2750–2758. (website, PDF).

  30. Gorski, C.A., Klüpfel, L., Voegelin, A., Sander, M., Hofstetter, T.B. (2013). Redox properties of structural Fe in clay minerals: 3. Relationships between Smectite Redox and Structural Properties. Environmental Science & Technology. 47. 13477-13485. (website, PDF).

  31. O'Loughlin, E.J., Boyanov, M.I., Flynn, T.M., Gorski, C.A., Hofmann, S.M., McCormick, M.L., Scherer, M.M., Kemner, K.M. (2013). Effects of Bound Phosphate on the Bioreduction of Lepidocrocite (γ-FeOOH) and Maghemite (γ-Fe2O3) and Formation of Secondary Minerals. Environmental Science & Technology. 47. 9157-9166. (website, PDF).

  32. Latta, D.E., Gorski, C.A., Scherer, M.M. (2012). Influence of Fe2+-catalysed iron oxide recrystallization on metal cycling. Biochemical Society Transactions. 40. 1191-1197. (website, PDF).

  33. Pearce, C.I., Qafoku, O., Liu, J., Arenholz, E., Heald, S.M., Kukkadapu, R.K., Gorski, C.A., Hendersone, C.M.B., Rosso, K.M. (2012). Synthesis and properties of titanomagnetite (Fe3-xTixO4) nanoparticles: A tunable solid-state Fe(II/III) redox system. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. 387. 24-38. (website, PDF).

  34. Gorski, C.A., Klupfel, L., Voegelin, A., Hofstetter, T.B., Sander, M. (2012). Redox properties of structural Fe in clay minerals: 2. Electrochemical and spectroscopic characterization of electron transfer irreversibility in ferruginous smectite, SWa-1. Environmental Science & Technology. 46. 9369–9377. (website, PDF).

  35. Gorski, C.A., Aeschbacher, A., Soltermann, D., Baeyens, B., Marques, M., Hofstetter, T.B., Sander, M. (2012). Redox properties of structural Fe in clay minerals: 1. Electrochemical quantification of electron donating and accepting capacities of smectites. Environmental Science & Technology. 46. 9360–9368. (website, PDF).

  36. Lilova, K.I., Pearce, C.I., Gorski, C.A., Rosso, K.M., Navrotsky, A. (2012). Thermodynamics of the Magnetite-Ulvöspinel (Fe3O4-Fe2TiO4) Solid Solution. American Mineralogist. 97. 1330:1338. (website, PDF).

  37. Gorski, C.A., Handler, R.M., Beard, B.L., Pasakarnis, T., Johnson, C.M., Scherer, M.M. (2012). Fe atom exchange between aqueous Fe2+ and magnetite. Environmental Science & Technology. 46. 12399-12407. (website, PDF).

  38. Chen, H., Laskin, A., Baltrusaitis, J., Gorski, C.A., Scherer, M.M.; Grassian, V.H. (2012). Coal combustion fly ash as a source of iron in atmospheric dust. Environmental Science & Technology. 46. 2112-2120. (website, PDF).

  39. Latta, D.E., Gorski, C.A., Boyanov, M., O’Loughlin, E.J., Kemner, K.M., Scherer, M.M. (2012). Influence of magnetite stoichiometry on UVI reduction. Environmental Science & Technology. 46. 778-786. (website, PDF)

  40. Schaefer, M.V., Gorski, C.A., Scherer, M.M. (2011). Spectroscopic evidence for interfacial Fe(II) Fe(III) electron transfer in a clay mineral. Environmental Science & Technology. 45. 540-545. (website, PDF)

  41. O’Loughlin, E.J., Gorski, C.A., Scherer, M.M., Boyanov, M.I., Kemner, K.M. (2010). Effects of oxyanions, natural organic matter, and bacterial cell numbers on the bioreduction of lepidocrocite (γ-FeOOH) and the formation of secondary mineralization products. Environmental Science & Technology. 44. 4570-4576. (website, PDF)

  42. Gorski, C.A. and Scherer, M.M. (2010). Determination of nanoparticulate magnetite stoichiometry by Mössbauer spectroscopy, acidic dissolution, and powder X-ray diffraction: A critical review. American Mineralogist. 95. 1017-1026. (website, PDF)

  43. Rosso, K.M., Yanina, S.V., Gorski, C.A., Larese-Casanova P., Scherer, M.M. (2010). Connecting observations of hematite (α-Fe2O3) growth catalyzed by Fe(II). Environmental Science & Technology. 44. 61-67. (website, PDF)

  44. Gorski, C.A., Nurmi, J.T., Tratnyek, P.G., Hofstetter, T.B., Scherer, M.M. (2010). Redox behavior of magnetite: Implications for contaminant reduction. Environmental Science & Technology. 44. 55-60. (website, PDF)

  45. Gorski, C.A. and Scherer, M.M. (2009). Influence of magnetite stoichiometry on FeII uptake and nitrobenzene reduction. Environmental Science & Technology. 43. 3675-3680. (website, PDF)

Book Chapters

  1. Gorski, C.A. and Scherer, M.M. (2011). Fe2+ sorption at the Fe oxide-water interface: A revised conceptual model. American Chemical Society: Washington, DC; 2011, ACS Symposium Series Vol. 1071: Aquatic Redox Chemistry. 315-343. Editors: Tratnyek, P., Grundel, T., Haderlein, S. (website, PDF)

Contact Us

Dr. Christopher Gorski
Pennsylvania State University
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
231F Sackett Building
University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814.865.5673
Fax 814.863.7304

Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Graduate Admissions Details