From trials to pilots and beyond
The environmental industry has been working steadily on developing viable PFAS remediation solutions. Many of these solutions are designed to separate PFAS from an existing medium and concentrate it in another form. Once concentrated options are limited, the PFAS concentrate generally needs to be removed offsite for destruction at thermal treatment facilities, which is expensive and requires high energy requirements. Alternatively, if not taken offsite for destruction, this PFAS concentrate continues to accumulate onsite until a cost-effective destruction solution is identified, increasing liability and management requirements.
While AECOM’s work to date has focused on investigation and management of PFAS, we have been developing and trialling a world-first PFAS destruction solution. Our technology trademarked as DE-FLUORO™ was developed by AECOM in collaboration with the University of Georgia in the United States and uses the process of electro-chemical oxidation to destroy PFAS by breaking the carbon and fluorine bonds. DE-FLUORO™ is an economically and environmentally sustainable technology and has been designed to be an onsite destruction technology that can be stand alone or coupled with existing PFAS water treatment separation solutions. This process destroys PFAS without generating any hazardous waste and is seen as the last step in closing the loop on PFAS impacted water and concentrate remediation.
In April, we officially concluded our ‘real-world’ PFAS destruction trials using DE-FLUORO™ on a variety of samples provided to us from multiple industry sectors. These samples represented a range of different environments and concentration, from co-mingled groundwater contamination to remediated PFAS impacted concentrate, all the way up to AFFF solution.
The key objective of the trials included the evaluation of the effectiveness and suitability of DE-FLUORO™ in the following areas:
- Treatment effectiveness on a diverse range of real-world samples
- Suitability to operate as a stand-alone or coupling technology
- Commercial viability and scalability of the technology.
The trial results showed great success with regulated PFAS compounds (PFOA, PFOS and PFHxS) generally being destroyed in under eight hours, followed by the non-regulated PFAS compounds. Based on the results of the ‘real-world’ PFAS destruction trials, we have commenced building our pilot scale DE-FLUORO™ treatment system that will be operational and available in July of this year. We are currently working with industry partners to establish a pilot program over the second half of 2019 and early 2020. The intent of the pilot program is to effectively demonstrate the applicability of DE-FLUORO™ to destroy PFAS onsite under a multitude of site scenarios and provide confidence to our clients and the industry that DE-FLUORO™ represents a viable and cost-effective PFAS destruction solution.
We are very excited about the DE-FLUORO™ technology and believe that it is going to be a real ‘game changer’ in the industry, as it will significantly reduce potential impacts on communities and limit land managers’ PFAS related environmental liability. If you would like to understand more in relation to DE-FLUORO™, or would like to consider having a DE-FLUORO™ pilot program operate on your site, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.