B.S. ​University of Virginia, 1999M.S. ​University of Michigan, 2004Ph.D. ​University of Michigan, 2008

"I study carbon management, which are engineered approaches to managing the carbon emissions that are driving climate change."

Andres Fernando Clarens, Associate Professor

Andres Clarens is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia and the Director of the Virginia Environmentally Sustainable Technologies Laboratory. His research is focused broadly on anthropogenic carbon flows and the ways that CO2 is manipulated, reused, and sequestered in engineered systems. The results of his work are important for developing efficient strategies for mitigating the emissions that are driving climate change. At the largest scales, his system-level modeling work has explored the life cycle of systems in the manufacturing, transportation, and energy sectors. In the laboratory, he is pursuing complementary research in the phase behavior and surface chemistry of carbon dioxide mixtures at high pressure.

The results from this work can be used to provide better lubricants for wind turbines and more accurate assessment of geologic carbon sequestration sites. In the classroom, Prof. Clarens engages in peer-to-peer learning at both the undergraduate and graduate level with an emphasis on developing innovative tools for teaching the fundamentals of climate change. In his spare time, he enjoys running, backpacking, fly-fishing, and traveling. He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan.


  • United States Fulbright Fellow – National Technical University of Argentina 2016
  • National Academies of Science, Arab American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine - Participant 2014
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award 2013-2018
  • Department Teaching Award – UVa Civil and Environmental Engineering 2013
  • American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Young Investigator Award 2010-2012
  • Fund for Excellence in Science and Technology – UVa Vice President for Research Office Junior Faculty Award (w/ L. Colosi) 2010-2011

Research Interests

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Resources
  • Wind Energy

Selected Publications

  • "Environmental life cycle analysis of water and CO2-based fracturing fluids used in unconventional gas production." Environmental Science & Technology 50.23 (2016): 13134-13141. Wilkins, R.F., A.H. Menefee, A.F. Clarens (2016).
  • "Deployment of a Geographical Information System Life Cycle Assessment Integrated Framework for Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges of Enhanced Oil Recovery Using Industrial CO2 Supply in the United States." ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Abotalib, M., F. Zhao, and A.F. Clarens (2016).
  • "Feasibility of carbonation reactions to control permeability in the deep subsurface." Environmental Engineering Science 33.10: 778-790. Tao, Z., J.P. Fitts, and A.F. Clarens (2016).
  • CO2 Deserts: Implications of Existing CO2 Supply Limitations for Carbon Management. Environmental Science and Technology, 48(19), 11713-11720. 10.1021/es5022685 Middleton, R. S., Clarens, A. F., Liu, X., Bielicki, J. M., and Levine, J. S. (2014).
  • "Quantifying the influence of climate change to priorities for infrastructure projects." IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics: Systems 44.2 (2014): 133-145. You, Haowen, et al.
  • “Estimating the carbon sequestration capacity of shale formations using methane production rates” Environmental Science and Technology. 47 (19), pp 11318–11325. 10.1021/es401221j Tao, Z. and A.F. Clarens (2013)
  • "CO2 adhesion on hydrated mineral surfaces" Environmental Science and Technology. 47 (20), pp 11858–11865. 10.1021/es402199e Wang, S., T. Zhiyuan, S. Persily, and A.F. Clarens (2013)
  • “Wettability phenomena at the CO2-brine-mineral interface: Implications for geologic carbon sequestration” Environmental Science and Technology. 47 (1) 234–241. 10.1021/es301297z Wang, S., I. Edwards, and A.F. Clarens (2013)
  • “Environmental Life Cycle Comparison of Algae to Other Bioenergy Feedstocks” Environmental Science and Technology. 2010, 44, (5), 1813-1819. 10.1021/es902838n Clarens, A.F., E.P. Resurreccion, M.A. White, L.M. Colosi. (2010)
  • “Environmental Impacts of Algae-Derived Biodiesel and Bioelectricity for Transportation” Environmental Science and Technology. 45 (17), 7554–7560. 10.1021/es200760n Clarens, A.F., H. Nassau, E.P. Resurreccion, M.A. White, L.M. Colosi (2011)

Courses Taught

  • CEE 1620 - Introduction to Engineering
  • CEE 2100 - Introduction to Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 3050 - Introduction to Green Engineering
  • CEE 4110-6220 - Water Chemistry
  • CEE 4500-6020 - Green Engineering and Sustainability
  • CEE 6500 - Physicochemical Processes

Featured Grants & Projects

  • Gas leakage in geologic carbon storage and hydraulic fracturing

    Subsurface fluid injections associated with geologic carbon storage or hydraulic fracturing are likely to lead to increases in pore pressure that would drive transport into overlying formations. We are working to develop a fundamental understanding of how interfacial properties at the gas-brine interface and at the gas-brine-mineral interface could impact buoyancy driven flow through porous media. Mass transfer between gas (e.g., CO2) and brine and CO2 phase change will mitigate leakage as illustrated below. These results are being used to develop improved frameworks of CO2 transport through porous media in brine and will ultimately lead to improved guidelines and recommendations for site selection, leakage prevention and operating conditions.

  • Reducing the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing

    Recent advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing of low permeability formations have led to a boom in hydrocarbon production from shale formations. There is growing concern that these practices can lead to a number of environmental problems and we are pursuing several activities in our lab to try and mitigate some of these impacts. In particular, we are exploring the fundamental rheology and chemical formulation principles that will be needed to deploy energized fluids made of CO2 to eliminate the water all together. Separately we are working on developing the chemistry to deploy reactive proppants that could be removed at the end of gas production to minimize long term risks and to store carbon.

  • Carbon management at the systems-scale

    Meaningful strategies for managing carbon emissions will need to be large scale and will need to work within technical and economic constraints. We are developing US-scale models of CO2 sources and sinks in an effort to better understand how opportunities to reduce emissions could be deployed over short and long time scales. We are using life cycle analysis models to understand the technological characteristics of different industries and coupling that with geospatial analysis to understand how carbon reduction strategies might be deployed.

  • Bio-sequestration using large-scale algae-based facilities

    Biofuels are being widely deployed to address a variety of energy independence and climate related objectives. Yet there is no clear indication that conventional biofuels are meeting the desired objectives even as advanced biofuels, made of algae and other feedstocks, are being developed. We are exploring a number of systems-level aspects of algae-based biofuels to better understand the potential of these fuels to achieve national priorities. We have conducted a variety of studies including a meta-analysis of life cycle studies of algae-to-energy systems to understand how the literature estimates differ and what a true estimate for the anticipated burdens of algae biofuels production might be. We have also developed a method for characterizing the land use effects of biofuels based on historical land use that is computationally rapid and could help remove some of the uncertainty from the debate about how much indirect land biofuels production affects.