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New Mexico State University

Water Systems

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Nirmala Khandan's ongoing research in algal systems is a perfect fit for a multi-university, multi-million dollar project.

Khandan and a team of NMSU researchers are part of the Urban Water Infrastructure Engineering Research Center (ERC), a partnership with Stanford University, Colorado School of Mines and the University of California, Berkeley.

Among NMSU's contributions to the ERC is research on the use of recycled municipal wastewater, which is rich in nitrates and phosphates, for algae cultivation in the algal biofuel production process.

"Algae mainly need carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow," Khandan said. "But they also need two side dishes: nitrates and phosphates. Municipal wastewater, for example, has plenty of these substances, which is currently a big problem, because they cannot be easily removed from the wastewaters. You can't just dump them because they will pollute the rivers and ground water. But, we can feed them to the algae and gain multiple benefits of waste management and energy production."


  • Distinguished Achievement Professorship
  • Multiple U.S. patents
  • Ed and Harold Foreman Endowed Chair in Civil Engineering
  • Among 28 “Best & Brightest,” Esquire Magazine (Genius Issue)
  • John W. Clark Professorship
  • University Research Council Award, Creative Scholarly Activity
  • Frank Bromilow Outstanding Research Award
  • El Paso Natural Gas Foundation Faculty Achievement Award
  • U.S. DOD/Air Force Award, Science and Engineering Research Training
  • Patricia Christmore Faculty Teaching Award
  • Founders Award, International Association on Water Quality

Related Links

National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts


Nirmala Khandan is the Ed and Harold Foreman Endowed Chair in Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering. Khandan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Ceylon-Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from Drexel University.



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