Emerging contaminants such as per- and polyfluoro alkyl substances (PFAS) are particularly hard to remove from water systems, and there is currently no commercial technology that completely destroys PFAS. There is an emerging technology that can fix that.
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Oxidation by electrochemistry can treat PFAS-laden waters without creating a secondary waste stream.
Patent-pending research conducted by OXbyEL Technologies, Inc. (short for “Oxidation by Electrochemistry”) offers an electrochemical contaminant removal system that breaks the strong carbon-fluoride (C-F) bond. It is this bond that makes PFAS linger in the environment seemingly ‘forever.’
Traditionally, other water treatment methods like filtration through carbon or resin, or through membranes only remove PFAS constituents and concentrate them into a waste stream that must then be disposed.
Disposal of the PFAS-laden carbon or resin material can be costly and voluminous. In a reverse osmosis (RO) membrane application, the waste stream containing concentrated PFAS can account for roughly 20% of the feed flow.
Current disposal methods either deactivate the material and send it to a landfill (thereby putting it back into the environment), or incinerate it, where residuals may reach ambient air. Until further safety criteria are met, New York State and the Department of Defense prohibit the incineration of PFAS-containing materials. An unintended consequence of incineration includes recombination of PFAS chemicals, meaning the process isn’t fully destructive.
“Examples of emerging treatment technologies for PFAS include plasma treatment, super critical water oxidation, and electrochemical treatment. The American Chemical Society noted that electrochemical destruction appears to be the best emerging technology for PFAS destruction.”
- Ed Ricci, CEO of OXbyEL Technologies
OXbyEL’s process of oxidation by electrolysis has great potential to beat the energy and maintenance cost of the incumbent PFAS treatment technologies. RO is effective at removing PFAS chemicals, but it generates a reject stream, can have problems associated with membrane fouling, and high energy costs. Carbon and resin treatment systems don’t completely remove short-chain PFAS, may be subject to rapid breakthrough due to competitive adsorption or high PFAS concentrations, and require isolation of the PFAS product and landfill disposal.
How does oxidation by electrolysis destroy PFAS constituents?
Oxidation breaks the C-F bond through electron transfer created by the electrolytic process. This involves the transfer of electronic charge across the interface formed between an electrode and an electrolyte which leads to an oxidation or reduction reaction. The OXbyEL process mineralizes PFAS compounds into inert compounds that are non-harmful. These inert compounds include combinations of cations (positive ions) and anions (negative ions). Anions routinely observed are sulfate, chloride, and fluoride. Cations routinely observed are sodium, calcium, and other common elements found in water.
Does this technology scale up?
OXbyEL Technologies continues to look for strategic partners, investors, and early adopters as they scale up their treatment systems, and can be contacted for further information on their website. They’re currently testing an in-house pilot and will be installing a field pilot system, about the size of a trailer, near Davis Monthan Air Force Base.
“OXbyEL is continuously scaling its units to address the remediation of groundwater and industrial discharges, and ultimately municipal drinking water.”
– Ed Ricci, CEO of OXbyEL Technologies
As interest in PFAS health risks and presence in water rise and corresponding upcoming regulations become increasingly more aggressive, we should keep an eye on emerging technologies like these as we move forward.
- Measures: more than 40 PFAS chemicals in the blood (quantitative).
- Results in 10 business days.
- Finger prick collection method.
- EPA-accredited laboratory techniques and methodologies.
- Ages 6 months and up.
Waterdrop filters are operated by Ecolife Technologies, Inc. at 17910 E Ajax Circle, City of Industry, CA 91748.
They’re manufactured by Qingdao Ecopure Filter Co., Ltd. at No. 13, Yishengbai Road, Environmental Protection Industry Zone, Jimo, Qingdao, 266201, China. The importance of telling you this is traceability. If you searched ‘waterdrop’ on the NSF website, nothing will come up. The certification information is under the manufacturer or operator name.
Waterdrop offers an under sink RO water filter that plugs into the same outlet as your disposal.
Buying from everydrop® is buying from the manufacturer. This is because everydrop® is part of the Whirlpool family of brands that includes KitchenAid, Maytag, JennAir, and Amana. I can’t say for sure why they created a separate company brand their filters, but my guess it’s that it was easier than making water filters branded under each of the name-brand names.
This family of brands sponsors the educational campaign, Filter It Out to help consumers avoid online scams.
You can find their refrigerator filter performance data sheets on their website.
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