New Water Treatment Removes PFAS ‘for Good’


Engineers at the University of British Columbia have reportedly developed a new water treatment method that removes per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances from drinking water safely.

“Think Brita filter, but a thousand times better,” said UBC chemical and biological engineering professor Dr. Madjid Mohseni, who developed the technology.

According to the release, the absorbing material developed by the team is capable of trapping and holding all the PFAS present in the water supply “for good.” The work was recently published in Chemosphere.

About the Tech

PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, are no longer manufactured in Canada, but are still incorporated in consumer products and can leach into the environment, with more than 4,700 PFAS in use. Research links these chemicals to a wide range of health problems including hormonal disruption, cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and cancer.

The researchers use their unique adsorbing material to trap and hold all of the PFAS present in the water supply, then destroy the chemicals using special electrochemical and photochemical techniques.

“Our adsorbing media captures up to 99% of PFAS particles and can also be regenerated and potentially reused. This means that when we scrub off the PFAS from these materials, we do not end up with more highly toxic solid waste that will be another major environmental challenge,” Mohseni explained.

Mohseni said that while there are treatments such as carbon and ion-exchange systems, they do not effectively capture all the different PFAS, or they require longer treatment time.

“Our adsorbing media are particularly beneficial for people living in smaller communities who lack resources to implement the most advanced and expensive solutions that could capture PFAS. These can also be used in the form of decentralized and in-home water treatments,” he noted.

UBC reports that the team is preparing to pilot the new technology at a number of locations in B.C. starting this month.

“The results we obtain from these real-world field studies will allow us to further optimize the technology and have it ready as products that municipalities, industry and individuals can use to eliminate PFAS in their water,” said Dr. Mohseni.

Other PFAS Removal Research

Last year, independent nonprofit organization Battelle Memorial Institute, which focuses on advancing sciences and technology, launched a weeklong pilot demonstration for its total solution for the removal and destruction of PFAS.

According to the company, the Battelle PFAS Annihilator Mobile Unit, a closed-loop, onsite destruction solution powered by supercritical water oxidation (SCWO), was used at a wastewater treatment facility operated by Heritage-Crystal Clean in western Michigan.

To breakdown the complex chemicals, Battelle’s PFAS Annihilator pumps contaminated wastewater into a system where it is mixed with hydrogen peroxide, isopropanol as a co-fuel and sodium hydroxide as a neutralizing agent. Afterwards, the substance passes through a heat exchanger where a furnace removes the salts.

Next, the remaining water goes into a reactor at a temperature and pressure designed to break the carbon-fluorine bond. The resulting output is carbon dioxide and hydrofluoric acid, which is neutralized with sodium hydroxide that turns it into inert salts and thus, eliminates any remaining harmful byproducts.

In trials of more than 30 PFAS-contaminated sample types, the PFAS Annihilator consistently demonstrated more than 99.99% destruction of total PFAS, according to reports.

In February, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia developed a new method to clean PFAS from contaminated water. The process, which uses a magnet and a reusable absorption aid developed by the team, has reportedly cleared 95% of PFAS from a small amount of contaminated water in under a minute.

The removal technique developed by the team involves treating the contaminated water with a new solution—a magnetic fluorinated polymer sorbent. The solution can reportedly be used up to 10 times.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Colleges and Universities; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Controls; hazardous materials; Hazardous waste; Hazards; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Latin America; North America; potable water; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Water/Wastewater; Z-Continents

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