A Novel Reactive Electrochemical Membrane System for Treatment of Mixed Contaminants

Dr. Qingguo Huang | University of Georgia



This limited-scope project will explore a novel reactive electrochemical membrane (REM) system to treat mixed contaminants of concern (COCs) that are commonly present in groundwater at DoD sites, including perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and trichloroethene (TCE). The REM system involves a Ti4O7 ceramic membrane or a hybrid membrane made by coating activated carbon fiber (ACF) on Ti4O7 that serves as both an electrode and a membrane. REM systems can be operated in different modes and combinations that couple filtration, sorption and electrochemical reactions in a synergistic manner to achieve efficient and cost-effective removal and degradation of mixed COCs.

ER-2717 Photo 1

Back to Top

Technical Approach

The study is designed to probe the specific hypothesis that a Ti4O7 or Ti4O7/ACF membrane operated in a REM system under appropriate conditions is able to i) reject PFAAs in feed water, and reduce chlorate to Cl- when serving as the cathode, and ii) adsorb and mineralize PFAAs and TCE when serving as the anode. Three interrelated research tasks are planned. Task 1 will focus on development and fabrication of Ti4O7 and Ti4O7/ACF membrane electrodes; Task 2 will examine the efficacy of individual REM unit operation; and Task 3 will combine different REM operations in a proper manner to remove and degrade PFAAs and TCE in field groundwater samples.

ER-2717 Photo 2

Back to Top


Electrochemical treatment has been shown effective to remove and degrade many COCs commonly present on DoD sites, and thus has a great potential to treat mixed contaminants, but its efficiency is still limited mainly by mass transfer issues that prevent its application in treatment of large volumes of water with relatively low concentrations of contaminants, such as in pump-and-treat scenarios. This study aims at a transformative way to increase the electrochemical treatment efficiency using a novel REM system that combines adsorption, filtration and electrochemical effects, which will offer a powerful tool to treat mixed COCs at DoD sites. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2019)

Back to Top


Liang S., R. Pierce Jr., H. Lin, S-Y. Chiang, and Q. Huang. 2018. Electrochemical Oxidation of PFOA and PFOS in Concentrated Waste Streams. Remediation Journal, 28:127-134.

Lin H., J. Niu, S. Liang, C. Wang, Y. Wang, F. Jin, Q. Luo, S-Y. Chiang, and Q. Huang. 2018. Development of Macroporous Magnéli Phase Ti4O7 Ceramic Materials: As an Efficient Anode for Mineralization of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances. Chemical Engineering Journal, 354:1058-1067.

Back to Top

Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Qingguo Huang

University of Georgia

Phone: 770-229-3302

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration