EPA rule change calls time on PFAS
Water treatment Membranes PFAS

Tech stacks, stack up on PFAS as US sets new standards

Monday, 30 January 2023

As the US EPA looks to change its standards for PFAS destruction, De Nora and Aclarity have signed an agreement to deploy PFAS-destroying technology at an industrial scale.

On-site PFAS destruction

The phrase “teamwork makes the dream work” may be a necessity for the water sector when it comes to solving the enormous challenge of contaminants of emerging concern, namely perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Both convention and unconventional partnerships will be needed to create the “tech stacks” necessary to help filter out and destroy PFAS found in water.

One example of a new partnership will see a combined solution to deliver a full-flow, onsite process, as opposed to a multi-step single-use treatment method like granular-activated carbon filtration.

Italian multi-national, De Nora, and destruction specialists, Aclarity, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to treat and mineralise PFAS across the US.

The pilot project brought concentrations of Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) down from over 1,000 nanograms per litre (ng/L) to less than 10 ng/L.

By combining De Nora's regenerable ion exchange resins with Aclarity's electrochemical oxidation technology, the on-site system will use the resins to concentrate PFAS in potable water applications before it is broken down by oxidation, specifically targeted for groundwater applications across the US.

It comes after water technology solutions provider Xlyem sponsored a full-scale pilot project that saw Aclarity destroy PFAS compounds from a landfill site.

Global Water Intelligence (GWI) reported that the pilot project, which ran for four weeks, brought concentrations of Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) down from over 1,000 nanograms per litre (ng/L) to less than 10 ng/L while using only 50 Watt-hr/gallon of energy. 

Julie Bliss Mullen, CEO of Aclarity, said: “PFAS contamination in groundwater is a great concern across the globe….together, we will make groundwater safe to drink once again.”


A change in the US on PFAS

PFAS has been in legislative limbo for a long time. Currently, in the US, there is a lack of federal policies that protect US citizens from the negative impact of PFAS.

However, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to announce its PFAS hazardous substance designation. 

Under the change, two PFAS would be designated- perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and PFOS, including their salts and structural isomers as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCL).

The proposed rulemaking would increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination.

It would require polluters to immediately report releases of PFOA and PFOS that meet or exceed the reportable quantity to the National Response Center, state or Tribal emergency response commission, and the local emergency responders.


PFAS destruction: a call to arms?

The South Adams County Water and Sanitation District recently hired environmental and construction services firm Brown and Caldwell to design a new ion exchange process to protect its water supplies from PFAS

If the US ruling comes into effect, it could accelerate the PFAS destruction market as both the big and smaller polluters look to get a handle on their PFAS pollution. 

Independent not-for-profit research technology organisation, Battelle, recently demonstrated a closed-loop destruction system at a wastewater treatment plant in Michigan. A mobile unit is being developed to help make the technology more accessible.