What are PFAS?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of environmentally-persistent, man-made chemicals used in industrial and commercial households. Currently there are over 600 of these compounds that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved for sale or import into the United States. Recent reports indicate that the amounts of PFAS from landfill leachate may outstrip the amounts from currently identified PFC contaminated sites. This will generate a growing need for new PFAS treatment technologies beyond the capability of activated carbon or membranes.
Two PFAS that are most often found in drinking water are legacy compounds that are no longer manufactured but are still being found in the environment, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).
Why are they harmful?
There is evidence that continued exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects (USEPA 2016a, 2016b, ATSDR 2018a). Consumption has been tied to serious adverse health consequences. Very low doses in drinking water have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, liver and thyroid disease, and other health problems.
Challenges of PFAS treatment
Current approaches for removal of PFAS from water to acceptable levels center around three main traditional technologies: a) adsorption using activated carbon, b) ion exchange, and c) reverse osmosis. While all three of these technologies can be highly effective, they do not result directly in destruction of PFAS compounds. Although the short-term treatment costs may be low, the long-term cost can become quite high due to solid and liquid disposal costs as well as site management.
All “effective” treatments do not destroy PFAS
Effective treatments concentrate PFAS onto the absorptive media, creating spent solid waste, and/or highly toxic reject water. Additional remediation costs are then incurred when the user is required to send the liquid concentrate for off-site incineration or the activated carbon for regeneration for reuse. All these steps require management and cost as well as a chain of custody of the toxic material.
ECOTHOR AOP™ Technology- Proven Sustainable CleanTech
E2metrix technology is based on a breakthrough in electrochemical oxidation reactor design. Much like an airplane engine does with oxygen, micropollutants are concentrated and compressed onto the active anodes and quickly destroyed. E2metrix technology applies electricity to solid state electrodes made from advanced catalyst materials. Wastewater or aqueous waste flows through the reactor. Power is applied to electrodes and the process mineralizes and destroys all types of toxic, recalcitrant organics through multiple oxidation mechanisms. E2metrix’s advanced oxidation process (AOP) does not use hazardous chemicals and does not produce any solid or liquid waste. Catalyst materials and electrodes are selected depending on the treatment application. E2metrix’s technology is protected by an extensive patent portfolio.
Advanced technology integration:
ECOTHOR-AOP™ technology is currently protected by 12 patents (issued or pending). E2metrix has successfully integrated this process with nanofiltration and ozone systems. Pre-treatment with membrane technology allows for the waste stream to be concentrated and destroyed saving cost and avoiding management of activated carbon or ion-exchange waste. Pre-treatment with ozone allows the PFAS to be predegraded, with ECOTHOR-AOP™ completing the polishing. In both cases, the waste stream is destroyed with a one-pass treatment.
E2metrix is the world leader in electrochemical remediation technology. Its patented modular reactors and high efficiency anodes allow for high treatment throughput at low cost.
Unlike other electrochemical technologies, E2metrix technology has the following advantages:
- High online throughput – Contaminated volumes as high as 5,000 m3/day are attainable with the unique E2metrix reactor and anode designs. Other technologies can only treat very low volumes or use an “offline” process which incorporates ion exchange resins to first separate the contaminant and then treat the by contaminant containing product from the resin regeneration solution. This adds cost and complexity to the treatment train.
- Low CAPEX: E2metrix reactors are patented, modular low-cost systems. Different types or reactors can be installed in sequence to treat the contaminants in phases. The reactors are designed to be modular, plug and play systems which makes upscaling or downscaling easy. Other technologies are not modular and sequential treatment is not possible. Furthermore they are not scalable, nor plug and play.
- Low OPEX: E2metrix technology uses patented anode technology which is low cost. The unique reactor design as well as anode geometry allows for very low power consumption – less than 5 kWh/m3 and often less than 2 kWh/m3.
- Modular Technology: E2metrix technology can be set-up in any combination of electro-oxidation or electro-coagulation sequence. Furthermore, each reactor can be fitted with different anode technology. As the system is plug and play, sequences can be changed or upgraded quickly.
- Full Advanced Water Treatment and Digitalization: the E2metrix system is designed to operate off a digital platform allowing full modular monitoring and control of the system from anywhere and anytime using any platform (including remote, mobile interfaces). This is a unique feature to E2metrix technology. As an add-on, non E2Metrix probes and sensors can be incorporated into the platform at no cost. Reports are generated on demand.
Samples of underground water were treated with ECOTHOR-AOP™r. For each sample the raw water and the treated water were analyzed for PFAS compounds. Table 1 and Table 2 provides some results.