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Sustainable management of PFAS contaminated materials (Less-PFAS)

Published: 16 October 2019

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are extremely stable chemical compounds, widely used in multiple applications and products worldwide.

Due to their chemical stability, PFAS are extremely difficult to break down, which means that the substances spreads over large areas and accumulate in nature over time.

P Fas LTU
Four ways to make free radicals that attack and break down PFAS molecules. The methods are tested separately and in combination.

They are so widespread through soil, groundwater and surface water, that nearly each of us already has PFAS in our blood. Since knowledge about the environmental and health effects of PFAS is still emerging, the problem has not been addressed sufficiently. Today's methods of dealing with PFAS-contaminated material - to dig up and transport them to landfills - are not sustainable. PFAS are very mobile and can still spread to water bodies through groundwater and landfill leachate. The need for development of cost efficient techniques that would enable the treatment of PFAS contaminated sites through destruction of these toxic and carcinogenic compounds is paramount.

The aim of this project is, in cooperation with partners from Sweden, Finland and Norway, and with the support of the industry, to optimize the existing and most promising PFAS destruction methods, and scale them up to practical solutions in field. The project will contribute to opportunities for enterprises with innovation activities in the region to grow and capitalize on environmental technologies that are developed within the project. The benefits in the long term will consist of reduced soil treatment costs and improved environmental quality through lower risks for pollution spreading as well as through the decreased amounts of toxic compounds in circulation.

The project group is composed of Prof Jurate Kumpiene (project leader), Dr Ivan Carabante and Jean Noel Uwayezu, all from LTU, Assoc Prof Tiina Leiviskä and Zhongfei Ren from Oulu University,  and Prof Tore Lejon from University in Tromsö, have met in November 2019 at LTU and in February 2020 at  Oulu University to discuss so far obtained results.

Zhongfei Ren has conducted a series of trials to break down PFAS using UV-light, while Jean Noel Uwayezu has done similar with electrochemical methods. These methods will be combined in the future to achieve a better degree of degradation than that achieved by individual techniques.
The results were supposed to be presented at a PFAS conference in Leipzig in March 2020, but due to covid19 the conference will take place in May 2021. The program can be found here: https://redoxtech.com/

A web-based meeting with the project Steering group took place in April 2020. The group received the results of the project and provide feedback on it and other relevant questions.

Jean Noel tells about LessPFAS

The measurement methods for PFOA and other short-chain PFCAs by UPLC-MS (The ACQUITY UPLC System, Waters. Q Exactive™ Plus Hybrid Quadrupole-Orbitrap™ Mass Spectrometer, Thermo.) were developed by the research group at Oulu university. They focus on the reductive degradation of PFOA by UV/sulfite system. The degradation and defluorination efficiency of PFOA in different water conditions have been investigated. Besides, the reductive degradation mechanism of PFOA is also studied.

Training:

A seminar for stakeholders and the project steering group was organized at LTU in a hybrid form the 11th of November 2021 in connection to the Jean Noel Uwayezu midterm seminar. Over 20 participants from Sweden, Finland, Norway and France attended the event on-site and online.

A workshop/training was organized for representatives of four municipalities in Norrbotten (Luleå, Boden, Piteå, Älvsbyn) on PFAS and took place at Luleå University of Technology on the 1st of April.  Over 20 persons participated in the workshop and discussed PFAS-related problems in society, possible solutions to address PFAS-polluted areas in the region and needs for further technique development.

Publications:

Jean Noel Uwayezu, Ivan Carabante, Tore Lejon, Patrick van Hees, Patrik Karlsson, Patrik Hollman, Jurate Kumpiene. 2021. Electrochemical degradation of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances using boron-doped diamond electrodes. Journal of Environmental Management 290, 112573

Poster:

Jean Noel Uwayezu, Ivan Carabante, Jurate Kumpiene. Degradation methods for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances treatment in contaminated materials. Poster at LTU.

Hållbar hantering av PFAS förorenade material (Less-PFAS)
Jurate Kumpiene

Kumpiene, Jurate - Professor and Head of Subject

Organisation: Waste Science and Technology, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Phone: +46 (0)920 493020
Ivan Carabante

Carabante, Ivan - Associate Professor

Organisation: Waste Science and Technology, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Phone: +46 (0)920 492103
Jean Noel Uwayezu

Uwayezu, Jean Noel - PhD Student

Organisation: Waste Science and Technology, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Phone: +46 (0)920 493569