Ashok Gadgil

Research Expertise and Interest

drinking water, fuel-efficient stoves, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, developing countries, buildings energy efficiency

Research Description

Safe and affordable drinking water for poor communities. This research includes research on remediation of arsenic in drinking water, controlling lead pipes leaching into drinking water, low-cost and highly effective methods to remove toxic Cr(VI) from drinking water, and UV-disinfection of drinking water to remove pathogens. 

Since emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, the Gadgil research lab has worked to develop low-cost and effective method for developing country communities to make their own surface disinfecting solution (dilute HOCl), based on the chlor-alkali process.

Significant research effort for the past several years has been made to develop methods to reduce salinity of brackish water (of ~10,000 ppm) to make it available for societal use.

Fuel-efficient biomass stoves. This research includes development of novel designs of fuel-efficient, low-emission, low-cost biomass cookstoves that burn natural wood and use natural convection.  Research on ways to reduce smoke emissions with injection of secondary air, and assessment of how such cookstoves may be built using market-available components.  Also research on quantitative measurements of adoption and use of such stoves by users, to gain insights into what actually works in the field.

Energy efficiency in buildings. This research primarily was on heat transfer into and within buildings, and understanding interactions of heat transfer with thermal mass of the building to reduce (heating and cooling) energy use and maintain thermal comfort for occupants.

Indoor air quality. This research focuses on transport and fate of chemical (gas phase) and particulate (aerosol) contamination within indoor spaces, and transport from outdoor plumes to indoors.  Research included ways to protect against radon entry into homes, and methods to protect occupants of civilian buildings from toxic outdoor plumes, and response strategies for sudden indoor releases of a toxic chemical gas. 

Technologies for developing countries. This research and related activities led contributed to the emerging field of Development Engineering.  This broadly encompasses technology solutions for often-dire problems of people in resource-limited settings, sometimes as poor as people in refugee camps, and also (somewhat better off) people in low-income communities around the world.

In the News

Bringing Arsenic-Safe Drinking Water to Rural California

In collaboration with Hutson and other Allensworth community leaders, engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, are currently field testing a simple and low-cost new arsenic treatment system that is designed to help small, rural communities like Allensworth access arsenic-safe drinking water.

Ashok Gadgil inducted into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Dr. Ashok Gadgil is inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) for his water disinfecting device. The NIHF honors those who are responsible for the great technological advances that make human, social and economic progress possible.

Two UC Berkeley faculty members named to NAE

Two faculty members at the University of California, Berkeley, have been named to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is considered one of the most prestigious professional distinctions accorded to an American engineer.

Arsenic water filter recognized with international prize

A team led by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab)’s Ashok Gadgil is the recipient of the 5th Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water. Gadgil, head of the Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division and a Professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, will receive the Creativity Prize on behalf of the team.

Ashok Gadgil gets $100,000 award for global innovation

The Lemelson-MIT Program has awarded Ashok Gadgil, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the 2012 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation. The award recognizes Gadgil, who is known for his work on affordable water disinfection systems and fuel-efficient cookstoves for developing nations, for “his steady pursuit to blend research, invention and humanitarianism for broad social impact.”

MBA students, Haas School faculty win sustainability research grants

The Haas School of Business’s Center for Responsible Business made an Earth Day announcement today (Friday, April 22) that several MBA students and Haas School faculty have won research grants to work on innovative sustainability projects dealing with reinforcing friends’ healthy habits to green supply chains and clean water.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
April 4, 2019
Angus Chen
After researchers found hazardous lead levels in the tap water feeding homes in Flint, Michigan, civil and environmental engineering professor Ashok Gadgil and graduate student Gabriel Lobo began working on a project to make lead pipes safer. Using new technology that employs electrical current to build a protective layer inside pipes, they found in preliminary tests that they were able to reduce the levels of toxic metal contaminating the water. While the current approach is to rebuild protective scale by adding phosphates to the water, that process can take months or years, and the Berkeley researchers say their method can accomplish the same effect in a matter of hours. Reporting on their progress at this week's American Chemical Society Spring 2019 National Meeting & Exposition, Lobo said: "It decreases the lead leaching rate by like 99 percent. ... The other thing you need to consider is that actual lead pipes have pre-existing scale. ... It's just small areas that become unprotected. The treatment will cover up those areas." Noting that more testing is required, he said: "The next part of the experiment is to try actual pipes in actual water systems."
December 12, 2018
Rinchen Norbu Wangchuk
High levels of arsenic in drinking water puts millions of people in India at risk for serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and impaired cognitive development in children. Helping to address the crisis, civil and environment engineering professor Ashok Gadgil has been directing a team of scientists developing a cost-effective and efficient Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR) system to remove arsenic contamination from water. Professor Gadgil reports that monitoring of arsenic levels at their pilot ECAR plant has shown the purified water to be consistently below the WHO guideline for arsenic content. He also mentions successful test results at a facility on the Berkeley campus.
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