Science Reporting

New method for purifying water from PFAS substances developed by Australian researchers

A new method for cleaning water from PFAS (polyfluorinated alkyl substances) has been developed by a research group at the University of Flinders, Australia. These substances are usually used in protective coatings, lubricants and other foam-based substances, such as fire protection, and can be extremely toxic because they can end up in drinking water and food. This method, according to the researchers, is low-cost, safe and environmentally friendly.

In Australia in particular, pollution by PFAS substances is very much felt as these are present in fire-fighting foams used almost everywhere, from airports to defence sites. In recent years, various contaminations of groundwater and surface waters have been found near the sites where these foams are used. Researchers at Flinders University have created a new type of absorbent polymer obtained from the growing oil and sulphur combined with powdered activated carbon (PAC).

This new polymer can adhere to the carbon and prevent its agglomeration during water filtration. It works, according to Australian researchers, better than traditional methods, which are based on granular activated carbon, because, in addition to being less expensive, it drastically reduces the amount of dust generated with fewer discs of workers who have to perform the filtration.

“The next step for us is to test this absorbent on a commercial scale and demonstrate its ability to purify thousands of liters of water, we are also studying methods to recycle the sorbent and destroy the PFAS,” says Justin Chalker, one of the authors of the research.