New Polymer Aids In The Fight Against PFAS Pollution in South Australia - Puratap

Posted January 24, 2023 by puratappty

A new polymer discovered in South Australia could hold the key to mitigating environmental damage caused by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

A new polymer has been developed that is said to be more effective in the fight against PFAS pollution than the current technology being used. The new polymer has been developed by a team of researchers at the University of South Australia and is said to be more effective in absorbing PFAS from water than the current technology.

The new polymer is made from a class of materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). MOFs are highly porous materials that have a large surface area, which makes them ideal for absorbing PFAS. The new polymer is said to be able to absorb up to 90% of PFAS from water, which is a significant improvement on the current technology.

The new polymer is still in the development stage and is not yet commercially available. However, the researchers are hopeful that it will be able to make a significant impact in the fight against PFAS pollution.

A new low-cost, safe and environmentally friendly method for removing PFAS from water has been discovered, solving the problem of cleaning up toxic polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) pollution. PFAS are commonly used in aviation fire-fighting foams, lubricants and non-stick and protective coatings. This new method is more effective and efficient than current methods, making it a significant breakthrough in the field.

The Flinders University Institute for NanoScale Science and Technology, in collaboration with the University of South Australia, have developed a new type of absorbent polymer made from waste cooking oil and sulfur combined with powdered activated carbon (PAC). This new polymer is more effective at absorbing oil and contaminants than current commercial products, making it an important step forward in environmental protection.

There's been a lot of news lately in Australia about PFAS pollution. PFAS are chemicals that don't degrade easily, so they can stay in the environment for a long time. They were used in fire-fighting foams for many years, and now there are reports of contaminated groundwater and surface water around airports and defense sites.

The new polymer adherence to carbon prevents caking during water filtration, working faster at PFAS uptake than the commonly used granular activated carbon method. It also dramatically lowers the amount of dust generated during handling PAC, lowering respiratory risks faced by clean-up workers.

“Our polymer-carbon blend shows promise as a safe, low-cost way to remove PFAS from water,” says Flinders University’s Dr Justin Chalker, co-director of the study. “Now we need to test it on a large scale and demonstrate its ability to purify thousands of litres of water. We are also investigating methods to recycle the sorbent and destroy the PFAS.”

During the testing phase, the research team was able to directly observe the self-assembly of PFOA hemi-micelles on the surface of the polymer. “This is an important fundamental discovery about how PFOA interacts with surfaces,” explains Dr Chalker. The research team's findings could have important implications for how PFOA is used in industry and regulation.

The team's polymer-carbon blend was put to the test by purifying a sample of surface water taken from near a RAAF airbase. The new filter material reduced the PFAS content of this water from 150 parts per trillion (ppt) to less than 23 parts per trillion (ppt), well below the Australian Government Department of Health's 70 ppt guidance values for PFAS limits in drinking water.

This PFAS sorbent is protected by a provisional patent. The canola oil polysulfide was found to be highly effective as a support material for powdered activated carbon, enhancing its efficiency and prospects for implementation,” says Nicholas Lundquist, PhD candidate at Flinders University and first author in the ground-breaking study.

We are pleased to announce that the research paper, “Polymer supported carbon for safe and effective remediation of PFOA- and PFOS-contaminated water”, by Nicholas Lundquist, Martin Sweetman, Kymberley Scroggie, Max Worthington, Louisa Esdaile, Salah Alboaiji, Sally Plush, John Hayball and Justin Chalker, has been published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal (DOI:10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b01793).

This project was a collaboration funded by the South Australian Defence Innovation Partnership, with further support from industry partners Puratap and the Salisbury Council. The co-directors of the study were A/Prof Sally Plush and Prof John Hayball at UniSA, and Dr Justin Chalker at Flinders University.

Flinders PhD student Nicholas Lundquist was the lead author of the study in collaboration with Research Fellow Dr Martin Sweetman of UniSA. The study was a success and has laid the groundwork for significant ongoing, collaborative research between Flinders and UniSA, as well as with our two industry partners Membrane Systems Australia and Puratap.

This research would not have been possible without the key contributors from the Flinders University Institute for NanoScale Science and Technology, including Kymberley Scroggie, Max Worthington, Dr Louisa Esdaile, and Salah Alboaiji. We are also grateful to the State Government's Defence Innovation Partnership program for their initial funding of this project.
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Last Updated January 24, 2023