Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017NJ390B

Removal of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and other micropollutants using spiky sweetgum seeds as renewable bioadsorbents to support "waste control by waste" and point-of-use (POU) water treatment devices

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000

Principal Investigators: Likun Hua, Wen Zhang

Abstract: Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are common perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) that have been detected in underground and tap water in New Jersey. PFASs are classified as reproductive and developmental toxicants, endocrine disrupters, and possible carcinogens. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched its drinking water guidelines for PFOA and PFOS in response to rising concerns of these chemicals with respect to drinking water security. Recent research has focused on the environmental occurrence, human exposure, and potential health effects of PFASs in the environment. To address Research Priority II - Novel approaches to water resource problems and water science, this project will perform a holistic evaluation of removal of PFOA and other relevant micropollutants in surface waters using our developed sweetgum seed bioadsorbent. This resource is fully renewable, scalable and involves low carbon and energy footprint in the preparation. The sweetgum tree seed capsule is a local biomass found in New Jersey that often ends up in solid waste. Due to the unique porous structures, these spiky balls have been converted by us into cost effective adsorbents for point-of-use (POU) water treatment devices. Specific research tasks are (1) the characterization of sweetgum tree seeds before and after thermal treatment; (2) investigations of multiple contaminant removal; (3) Adsorption column tests for longevity, reusability and cost efficiency. The results will pave new ways for the use of natural materials or waste materials for pollution control. This research will also and promote novel and sustainable water treatment technologies to support waste-control-by-waste concepts and POU applications at small communities.