U.S. Department of Defense-Funded Research on Treatment of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance-Laden Materials
By Charles Coyle, Rajat Ghosh, Andrea Leeson, and Timothy Thompson
Environ Toxicol Chem
August 13, 2020
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has invested into research, development, and demonstrations of treatment technologies for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) in groundwater, surface water, soils and sediments where aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) had previously been used. The majority of this work is being funded by the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP). This article presents an overview of efforts being funded by SERDP and ESTCP to develop novel and improved technologies for remediation of PFAS impacted media. Both ex situ and in situ treatment processes are being investigated, via both destructive and non-destructive processes. Destructive processes seek to achieve complete defluorination of PFAS; whereas non-destructive processes are used to remove PFAS from impacted media, concentrating them onto treatment media. Contaminated groundwater is one of the focal points, however processes for treating investigation derived wastes and soils are also under investigation. Concentrated waste streams, (i.e., spent activated carbon, spent ion exchange resin, rejectate from membrane filtration, and regenerant brines from of ion exchange resins), represent the other category of PFAS laden wastes that has been targeted. The treatment technologies must be capable of handling the wide range of PFAS constituents that may be encountered and must be able to achieve stringent cleanup criteria (i.e., low part per trillion levels) while also being cost-effective and sustainable.