Superfund Research Program
Development of High Affinity Novel Fluor Mop Adsorbent for the Rapid Removal of Perfluorinated Chemicals From Groundwater
Project Leader: Alexa R. May
Grant Number: R43ES033149
Funding Period: Phase I: April 2021 - September 2021
Perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), nicknamed “Forever Chemicals”, are extensively used in industries and firefighting applications as a component of aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs). Because members of this class of chemicals are persistent, they are prevalent in nature and are detected across the globe in water, air, soil, plants, animals, and even in human milk and blood. They are toxic to human health, and even at lower levels are linked to developmental effects in infants, liver toxicity, increased risk of certain types of cancer, immune system impacts, thyroid disease, and many other health issues. Therefore the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has recently set health advisories level for two PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) at 70 ng/L individually or combined. In response to the need for remediation of PFAS contaminated water many technologies have been scrutinized, including adsorption-based remediation technology. Most notably, the use of granular activated carbon (GAC) and ion exchange resins sorbents. Among these, GAC is the most widely accepted and commonly used treatment technology for PFAS contaminated groundwater and drinking water. However, GAC has many drawbacks for example its susceptibility to fouling by natural organic matter, expensive intensive high energy regeneration process, and inferior in removal of short chain PFAS. Additionally, since GAC is not designed for PFAS adsorption it displays only low affinity towards PFAS, thus, it requires significantly large amounts of GAC to achieve the desired PFAS levels. Therefore, there is a need for adsorbents that are specifically designed for the PFOA/PFOS removal in efficient, cost-effective, and recyclable manner. In ongoing research, Weaver Labs has designed novel PFOA/PFOS specific adsorbents that leverage an advanced solid support platform. In the preliminary adsorption studies, the adsorbent demonstrated superior PFOA/PFOS affinity compared to GAC technology using PFOA/PFOS contaminated real world groundwater. Weaver labs’ long-term goal for this project is to develop commercial PFAS specific adsorbent filter that is highly efficient, effective, recyclable and economical which can be utilized to purify PFAS contaminated water. Ultimately, it would allow pure water to be delivered to the public, thus decreasing the health risk associated with these chemicals. To meet the long-term goal this proposal’s objective is to develop and screen novel adsorbents, carry out the required kinetic adsorption study experiments, and optimize its regeneration and reuse. The completion of proposed study will position us for phase II studies, including a rapid small-scale column study, and eventual pilot study.