Plasma Technology To Cleanup Underground Water

Plasma Technology To Cleanup Underground Water

New plasma technology developed by civilian researcher completed a two-week field test demonstration to degrade and destroy perfluorooctanesulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOS and PFOA, in groundwater.

Using an innovative plasma technology, the demonstration of the Enhanced Contact Plasma Reactor, conducted under an Air Force Civil Engineer Center contract with primary contractor Clarkson University and teaming partner GSI Environmental.

Clarkson and GSI were awarded this research project to demonstrate effectiveness of a plasma reactor for the treatment of water containing PFOS and PFOA. Wright-Patterson AFB was the installation chosen for the field demonstration.

The Board Agency issued by AFCEC was the latest contract from the board. It is also part of an ongoing Air Force efforts to identify potential cost-effective and sustainable environmental solutions for cleaning groundwater containing PFOS and PFOA concentrations for the nation.

PFOS and PFOA are synthetic chemical compounds used for decades in many industrial and consumer products such as nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabric and carpet and some food packaging. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down over time. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is evidence that exposure to PFOS and PFOA can lead to adverse human health effects.

Water used for the demonstration was drawn from two monitoring wells at the Wright-Patterson fire training area.

“We are trying to destroy or degrade PFAS impacted groundwater using electrical discharge plasma,” explained Dr. Selma Mededovic of Clarkson University, principal investigator.

The plasma reactor is a closed system utilizing water, electricity and argon gas to degrade PFOS and PFOA in minutes.

“The argon gas concentrates PFAS at the gas-liquid interface and plasma is generated at that interface, which then destroys PFAS,” said Mededovic.

“This is the only technology that actually destroys PFAS molecules that has been demonstrated at this scale, it doesn’t just remove them from water,” said Dr. Tom Holsen of Clarkson University and co-principal investigator. “All of the other demonstrations that we’re aware of remove it from the water through filtration so there is still a PFAS containing waste. Our method actually destroys PFAS.”

During the testing researcher were able to test different durations and flows to optimized efficiency of their Environmental Remediation Mobile Laboratory.

“The overall goal of the project was to transition the technology from the laboratory to the field and optimize operating conditions of the mobile system, “stated Stephen Richardson of GSI Environmental, Inc., and co-principal investigator.

Promising technology to keep the underground water clean.