Superfund Research Program
Continuous Removal/Disposal System for the Concurrent Sorption and Breakdown of Contaminants Into Harmless Precipitates
Project Leader: Joseph Miller
Grant Number: R43ES030250
Funding Period: Phase I: September 2018 - August 2019
There is an ever-growing need for useable uncontaminated water in the United States and across the globe. However, a significant problem is occurring at the confluence of industry and consumers that continues to put access to clean drinkable water at risk. Industries, including oil, manufacturing, agricultural, aerospace, and food, utilize toxic chemicals in their industrial processes which can eventually spill or leak into human water supplies, contaminating the source. Some of the numerous potentially hazardous chemicals that have been identified in water sources are 1,3-butadiene, pentachlorophenol (PCP), trichloroethylene (TCE), perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and many others.
Concerns regarding these and other chemicals have led the environmental protection agency (EPA), as well as individual states, to put advisory health level limits on sources of drinking water. In particular, the current lifetime health advisory level for the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), PFOS and PFOA, is 70 ppt (0.070 µg/L) due to their persistence in the human body as well as their ubiquitous environmental presence. Furthermore, a Harvard study has found that the water supplies for six million people in the United States exceed the recommended safe levels of PFAS including PFOS and PFOA. There is an obvious significance of removing toxic chemicals and decreasing the risk of disease from six million people’s water supply; however, the widespread implementation of a remediation system is often hindered due to a high cost- to-benefit ratio and limited range of effectiveness.
Lynntech, Inc., in collaboration with the Seneca Companies, has designed a system that will overcome the drawbacks of current sorption- and filtration-based remediation systems which include 1) exorbitant filtration/sorbent replacement times and costs, 2) low selectivity to either PFOS or PFOA or similar potentially hazardous PFAS, 3) additional costs associated with the decomposition/disposal of concentrated or captured waste, and 4) low flux & high fouling rates.
Lynntech plans to overcome these current limitations by developing a tunable and continuous remediation system that will utilize a scalable, efficient, and plasma-induced contaminate decomposition, sorbent regeneration system with an integrated monitoring system. This complete remediation system is capable of achieving in situ and ex situ groundwater purification from a variety of contaminants with less than 70 ppt of PFOA/PFOS in the purified effluent. The system also offers the following advantages over current systems: extension in useable lifetime, reduction in lifetime cost, high purification rate, ability to function without the need for a secondary contaminate disposal step, and adaptability to a large range of contaminants.
This cost-effective remediation system can offer continuous removal and disposal of water contaminants for easy in situ or ex situ implementation, allowing for rapid deployment in the field where millions of Americans continue to drink water contaminated with harmful chemicals.