Mar 21, 2019

University of Arizona Researchers Develop New Method to Remove PFAS

The researchers are developing a new method to remove PFAS from drinking water

University of Arizona Researchers Develop New Method to Remove PFAS

Researchers from the University of Arizona have been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program to develop a new method for removing per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) from drinking water. The researchers plan to use a new class of sorbents that will attract PFAS more strongly than granular activated carbon (GAC).

According to a press release from the university, these sorbents also will be more customizable in their ability to bond to specific kinds of PFAS. In the early phases of the project, the research team is working with simulated groundwater they make themselves, and which includes other contaminants besides PFAS, to make sure the presence of more than one contaminant does not interfere with their method.

"As we move forward, we're going to bring contaminated water in from two military bases," said Reyes Sierra, a chemical and environmental engineering professor who is affiliated with the university’s Institute of the Environment. "Once we select the sorbents that work the best, then we'll move on to test them in the very realistic conditions, in which we'll use actual groundwater."

This new treatment method is first being developed for a common type of groundwater treatment in which water is purified by pumping it through the sorbents. But it also will have potential applications to a form of treatment in which sorbents are added directly to the groundwater source.