The First Quantitative Investigation of Compounds Generated from PFAS, PFAS-containing Aqueous Film-forming Foams and Commercial Fluorosurfactants in Pyrolytic Processes

By Bin Yao, Runze Sun, Ali Alinezhad, Alena Kubátová, Matt F. Simcik, Xiaohong Guan, and Feng Xiao
J. Hazard. Mater.
June 13, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.129313

Pyrolysis as a thermochemical technology is commonly used in waste management and remediation of organic-contaminated soil. This study, for the first time, investigated fluorinated and non-fluorinated compounds emitted from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and relevant products upon pyrolysis (200–890 °C) and their formation mechanisms. Approximately 30 non-fluorinated compounds were detected from PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) and commercial surfactant concentrates (SCs) after heating, including glycols and glycol ethers that were predominant at 200 °C. Oxygen (e.g., 1,4-dioxane) and nitrogen heterocycles and benzene were unexpectedly observed at higher temperatures (300–890 °C), which were likely formed as a consequence of the thermal dehydration, dehydrogenation, and intermolecular cyclization of glycols and glycol ethers. Fluorinated volatiles in six major classes were detected at low and moderate temperatures (200–500 °C), including perfluoroalkenes, perfluoroalkyl aldehydes, fluorotelomer alcohols, and polyfluorinated alkanes/alkenes. Several features of the pyrolyses of PFAS suggest that the underlying decomposition mechanism is radical-mediated. Perfluoroheptene thermally decomposed at 200 °C to shorter-chain homologues following a radical chain-scission mechanism. Most of these volatiles observed at low/moderate temperatures were not detected at 890 °C. Ultra-short-chain fluorinated greenhouse gases (e.g., perfluoromethane) were not found.


View on ScienceDirect