PFMS cleaning solution, one of the world’s most difficult pollutants
Scientists have only begun to understand the importance that a group of industrial chemicals called “PFAS” have penetrated far into our planet.
PFOS – substances that contain polypropylene and polyfluoroalkyl – are man-made fluorescent blends that have given us olive paint, paint, wax, cleaning products and fire retardants used at airports and military bases.
They are available in consumer goods such as carpets, wall paint, popcorn bags and waterproof shoes and are required in the aviation, automotive, communications, data storage, electronic and healthcare industries.
The chemical bonding of carbon fluorine to one of nature’s most powerful natural elements is the reason behind the brutal success of these chemicals, as well as the enormous environmental challenges they have posed since the 1940s.
The residues of sulfonate in perfluorooctane have been found in several virgin water sources and in polar bear tissue.
Science and industry have been urged to cleanse these constant chemicals, some of which have been linked, to some extent, to harmful health effects on humans and animals.
Among those who have solved this extremely complex problem are engineers at Walter Scott Jr. College of Engineering at Colorado State University.
CSUs have a relatively small presence in a limited number of institutions that have the skills and advanced tools to study PFAS.
Now, CSU engineers, led by research assistant Professor Jens Blotovell of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, have released a new set of work to deal with a specific PFAS composite dimeclofluorine propylene oxide dimer called GeneX.
These chemicals and other polymerization processes that use similar chemistry have been in use for almost a decade.
It was developed as an alternative to the old PFAS chemicals known as “C8” compounds, which were particularly persistent in water and soil, and are very difficult to clean (resulting in their nickname, “Chemicals Forever”).
GenX has become the name of a house in the Cape Fear Basin region of North Carolina, where it was discovered a few years ago in local drinking water.
Kemmers is committed to reducing 99 percent of the fluorinated biochemicals in responsible domestic air emissions and reducing air and water emissions from its global operations by 2030.
For the past several years, Kemmers has also funded the Bloatvovel team at CSU as they experiment with innovative ways that will help the company promise to clean up its organization just as it supports the environment.
Writing in Environmental Science and Technology, Blotovell teamed up with Professor Tizheng Tong, an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, to show an effective “therapeutic train” that allowed multiple technologies to specifically detach and destroy Jinx’s remains in the water.
A current practice for treating ZENX-contaminated water is high temperature combustion – according to researchers, it is an “extremely expensive” process, it is very wasteful for water and energy recovery. “It’s working, but it’s not sustainable,” said Pluteville.
Researchers propose better solutions. Tong, a leading expert on environmental filtration and membrane filtering methods, used a micro-filtration membrane with suitable porous size to filter 99.5% of dissolved ZnX compounds.
After the solid waste stream was created, the researchers proved that electrochemical oxidation, which is considered to be the most effective technique for cleansing of blastovaginal destroyed PFAS, can then be split into harmless products.
Currently, companies can also use various measures to remove PFOS in acceptable levels from water: adsorption of activated carbon, ion exchange and reverse osmosis.
Although all three of these techniques can be very effective, they do not lead directly to the destruction of PFAS compounds, Blotovegel said.
CSU researchers use electronic treatment alternatives to chemically alter PFAS to more benign compounds.
Bloatwovel Lab has made several successful recovery efforts on the ground-breaking scale and is working to improve their methods.
Together with Tong’s nanofiltration system, the waste stream will be channeled and concentrated, saving companies money and reducing carbon footprint throughout the process.
Researchers hope to continue working together to improve the process, for example, by examining different types of filter films to determine the best material and design.