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IPFS News Link • Environment

Scientists Discover How to Destroy Toxic PFAS – the 'Forever Chemicals'

•, By Andy Corbley

Perflourinated or polyfluorinated alkyl-substances (PFAS) are known to be nearly impossible to break apart, and tend to accumulate in groundwater sources, soils, and other places. Their health effects are known, as is a new method to destroy 99% of them in water sources.

Known as "supercritical water oxidation" (SWO), a paper recently published found the procedure could destroy 99% of of a wide variety of known and unknown PFAS contained in a water sample.

When water is heated to to 374°C (705.2°F) under pressures of 220 bar, it becomes not gas, nor liquid, but a state known as supercritical. Here, accelerated oxidation and other reactions cause the PFAS to dissolve into component elements, which can be more readily collected and disposed of.

In testing SWO, the EPA-backed researchers found that only 27% of the weight of the water sample's fluorinated content came from the PNAS the scientists were targeting, suggesting a large portion belonged to forever chemicals not identified in the study. Such a finding lends huge credence to SWO as a cleaning method.

"As a destructive technology, SCWO may be an alternative to incineration and could be a permanent solution for PFAS-laden wastewaters rather than disposal by injection into a deep well or landfilling," the authors write in their paper.