Microwave regeneration of granular activated carbon saturated with PFAS

By Erica Gagliano, Pietro P Falciglia, Yeakub Zaker, Tanju Karanfil, and Paolo Roccaro
Water Res
May 4, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.117121

This study investigated the regeneration of PFAS-saturated granular activated carbons (GACs) by microwave (MW) irradiation. Two commercially available GACs (bituminous coal based GAC [BCGAC] and lignite coal based GAC [LCGAC]) were saturated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and then irradiated at different MW conditions (applied power = 125 - 500 W, irradiation time = 3 - 12 min). The performance of MW regeneration for PFOS- or PFOA-saturated GACs was assessed by evaluating the variation of GAC adsorption capacity (regeneration efficiency, RE) and weight loss percentage (WL). Moreover, the effect of MW irradiation on GAC textural properties (e.g., surface area and pore volume) was examined through N2 adsorption isotherms. Additionally, five successive adsorption/regeneration cycles were carried out at the MW operational condition that allowed to reach the target temperature (T>600°C) while minimizing the WL. Both GACs exhibited a strong ability to convert MW irradiation into a rapid temperature increase (~150°C min-1 at 500 W). The highest values of RE (>90%) for both PFOA- and PFOS-saturated GACs were obtained at MW irradiation conditions that employed short regeneration time (3 min) and optimal temperature. Indeed, the highest RE did not occur at the highest temperatures (>750°C) due to the damage of GAC porous structure, particularly for LCGAC. After five cycles, the observed values of RE (~65%) and a moderate weight loss (<7%) demonstrated the good performance of MW irradiation for regenerating PFOA- and PFOS-saturated BCGAC. The obtained findings pointed out that MW irradiation is a promising alternative regeneration technique for PFAS-saturated GAC.


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