Innovative Treatment of Investigation-Derived Waste Polluted with Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Contaminants and Other Co-Contaminants

Dr. Thomas Boving | University of Rhode Island



The objective of this project is to develop an innovative approach for the on-site treatment of investigation-derived waste that destroys Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds as well as common co-mingled contaminants (e.g. Chlorinated volatile organic compound [CVOC], 1,4-Dioxane). The research team will test an ex-situ destructive technology for cost-effective and reliable on-site treatment of PFASs present in soil and water investigation-derived waste (IDW).

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Technical Approach

The research team will first conduct bench-scale studies that will lead to a proof-of-concept demonstration of the treatment approach. The treatment approach is based on a patented peroxone activated persulfate oxidation process. An already existing mobile unit for generating the chemical treatment solution will be employed in this applied research study. Researchers will conduct an initial series of semi-bench scale studies that lead to a proof-of-concept study, which will demonstrate that PFAS compounds as well as common co-mingled contaminants (e.g. CVOC, 1,4-Dioxane) can be destroyed under ex-situ, on-site conditions. The treatment approach is based on chemically degrading the target contaminants via powerful sulfate, hydroxyl, and superoxide radical pathways in the presence of oxygen/ozone gas. This approach not only addresses PFAS and co-contaminants, but has also been found to degrade a broad range of currently difficult to quantify PFAS compounds. Some of which may be PFAS precursors. Importantly, the technology is capable of degrading perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which is a notoriously difficult to destroy PFAS. In this applied research study, researchers will employ an already existing mobile unit for generating the chemical treatment solution that is then pumped into the soil/water treatment reactor(s). Researchers will design and optimize the proof-of-concept system so that a future full-scale unit can be deployed easily, minimizing the spatial footprint and mobilization time and effort. Further, researchers will compare the cost effectiveness of the approach to current disposal methods, mainly incineration and land filling, and they will study potential limitations and risks of the treatment approach, if any.

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An efficient mobile on-site treatment technology for treatment of IDW from PFAS investigations will result in significant cost reductions compared to incineration and off-site disposal with legacy risks, which will greatly aid Department of Defense Remedial Project Managers (RPMs) in the site management. The utilization of the treatment technology with a flexible chemistry and multi-stage treatment provides a high degree of certainty that PFAS and their potential chemical oxidation/reduction by-products and precursors are treatable on-site. This increases regulatory acceptance while simultaneously reduces the remediation time and expense as compared to current treatment technologies, such as off-site disposal or incineration. (Anticipated Completion - March 2019)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Thomas Boving

University of Rhode Island

Phone: 401-874-7053

Fax: 401-874-2190

Program Manager

Environmental Restoration