Photodegradation of Hexafluoropropylene Oxide Trimer Acid under UV Irradiation

By Chen Li, Zhanghao Chen, and Cheng Gu
J of Env. Sci.
June 17, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.jes.2020.05.006

As a novel alternative to traditional perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), hexafluoroproplyene oxide trimer acid (HFPO-TA) has been detected worldwide in surface water. Moreover, recent researches have demonstrated that HFPO-TA has stronger bioaccumulation potential and higher hepatotoxicity than PFOA. To treat these contaminants e.g. PFOA and PFOS, some photochemical techniques by adding exogenous substances had been reported. However, there is still no report for the behavior of HFPO-TA itself under direct UV irradiation. The current study investigated the photo-transformation of HFPO-TA under UV irradiation in aqueous solution. After 72 hr photoreaction, 75% degradation ratio and 25% defluorination ratio were achieved under ambient condition. Reducing active species, i.e., hydrated electrons and active hydrogen atoms, generated from water splitting played dominant roles in degradation of HFPO-TA, which was confirmed by different effects of reaction atmospheres and quenching experiments. A possible degradation pathway was proposed based on the products identification and theoretical calculations. In general, HFPO-TA would be transformed into shorter-chain PFASs, including hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA), perfluoropropionic acid (PFA) and trifluoroacetate (TFA). This research provides basic information for HFPO-TA photodegradation process and is essential to develop novel remediation techniques for HFPO-TA and other alternatives with similar structures.


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