Waste incineration of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) to evaluate potential formation of per- and Poly-Fluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) in flue gas
By Krasimir Aleksandrov, Hans-Joachim Gehrmann, Manuela Hauser, Hartmut Mätzing, Daniel Pigeon, Dieter Stapf, and Manuela Wexler
September 16, 2019
In recent years, concerns over some per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) have grown steadily. PFAS are a large group of chemical substances with widely differing properties. While one class of PFAS, fluoropolymers, have been demonstrated to meet the OECD criteria for polymers of low concern during the in use phase of their lifecycle, questions remain regarding waste handling at the end of useful life for products containing fluoropolymers. To show that polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) can be almost fully transformed into fluorine (F) (as hydrofluoric acid (HF)) and to study the possible generation of low molecular weight per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), PTFE combustion under typical waste incineration conditions at the BRENDA (German acronym for "Brennkammer mit Dampfkessel") pilot plant at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) was investigated. Results indicate that, within procedural quantitation limits, no statistically significant evidence was found that the PFAS studied were created during the incineration of PTFE. Therefore, municipal incineration of PTFE using best available technologies (BAT) is not a significant source of the studied PFAS and should be considered an acceptable form of waste treatment.