Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020NJ020B

Electrochemical Device Development for Detection and Removal of Perfluorinated Substances in Water

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-02-22 End Date: 2021-02-20
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $40,099

Principal Investigators: Joshua Young

Abstract: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pose a significant threat to water sources as they are highly stable, difficult to remove, and cause significant health problems. The New Jersey state government recently limited the allowable level of such compounds to less than 13 parts per trillion; however, this low concentration combined with the fact that there are thousands of members in the PFAS family poses severe challenges to develop sensors. Moreover, this chemical diversity means different PFAS interact in unique ways with their environment and across various matrices. There is an urgent need for sensitive and selective sensors that can rapidly and inexpensively detect different PFAS at low concentrations. In response, Co-PI Basuray’s lab has designed a new ultra-sensitive, rapid electrochemical sensor using a metal-organic framework (MOF) that detected perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) at levels lower than EPA requirements for source water (meeting more stringent New Jersey standards). However, PFAS selectivity issues remain due to the lack of distinguishable electrochemical signatures from different PFAS species. In this project, we will combine computations and experiments to optimize the selectivity of this electrochemical sensor by (1) studying the interaction of various PFAS species with MOF materials to identify MOFs that are selective to different PFAS, (2) developing the electrochemical sensor using the MOF, and (3) testing its efficacy in realistic water matrices. This will result in the development of a rapid, selective, and sensitive electrochemical sensor that can detect and distinguish different PFAS species in source water at very low concentrations.