Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020MA004B

Thermal Regeneration Technologies for Granular Activated Carbons Laden with Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

Institute: Massachuseits
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $50,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $99,998

Principal Investigators: Onur Apul

Abstract: Poly- and per-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances are considered to be one of the most consequential environmental contaminant classes in recent history. They have been identified in 17 water sources in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts serving more than 250,000 residents. Considering the high population density and prominent industrial activity, PFAS are also anticipated to have an impact on other Northeastern U.S. regions. The PFAS contamination mostly originates from direct field application in fire training or response sites and from breaches in landfill containment. Given the thermodynamic limitation for breaking the exceptionally stable C-F bonds and limited research on costly catalysts and/or processes to achieve PFAS degradation, conservative remediation technologies are required to prompt mitigation of impacted water sources. Carbon-based adsorbents are successful in remediating source waters impacted by PFAS; however, rapid depletion of adsorption capacity increases the cost of operation. Furthermore, spent adsorbents create a PFAS laden side waste stream. In this proposal, we will test granular activated carbon adsorbents for PFAS remediation and their subsequent thermal regeneration under pertinent conditions considering the environmental levels and the practical operation of the remediation technologies.This proposal responds to a contemporary water emergency that requires attention in Massachusetts as well as in the Northeastern U.S. We are collaborating with MassDEP and the Town of Littleton, MA to contemplate a vivid framework and eventually solve an actual environmental problem. The data obtained in this project will be used in submission of two federal proposals (DOD SERDP ERSON-21C1 and NSF CBET Environmental Engineering) within 2020. The first federal proposal will be investigation of thermal regeneration of spent granular activated carbons responding to the specific SERDP call. The second federal proposal will be containment efficiencyof PFAS containment at the bentonite-activated carbon landfill liners.