Professor Dr. Madjid Mohseni and postdoctoral fellow Ehsan Banayan Esfahani look at a pilot water-treatment system to be deployed in British Columbia. Photo by Lou Corpuz-Bosshart/UBC.

New Adsorbing Material Traps PFAS, Can Be Regenerated

University of British Columbia (UBC) chemical and biological engineering professor Dr. Madjid Mohseni has developed a new technology to remove PFAS from drinking water. Mohseni and his team of engineers devised a unique adsorbing material that is capable of trapping and holding all the PFAS present in the water supply. The PFAS are then destroyed using special electrochemical and photochemical techniques, also developed at the Mohseni lab.

“Our adsorbing media captures up to 99 percent of PFAS particles and can also be regenerated and potentially reused. This means that when we scrub off the PFAS from these materials, we do not end up with more highly toxic solid waste that will be another major environmental challenge,” said Mohseni.


Feng “Frank” Xiao in his lab at Lafferre Hall.

Thermal Induction Heating Able to Quickly Degrade PFAS

Dr. Feng “Frank” Xiao and his colleagues at the University of Missouri created an innovative method to break down PFAS using thermal induction heating. The process can rapidly break down PFAS left on the surface of two solid materials—granular activated carbon and anion exchange resins—after these materials have been used to filter PFAS from municipal water systems. The method is based on the Joule heating effect, which uses the process of electromagnetic induction inside a metallic reactor.

“This method produced 98 percent degradation of PFAS on the surface of absorbents like granular activated carbon and anion exchange resins after just 20 seconds, which makes this process highly energy efficient and much faster than conventional methods,” said Xiao.


UBC researchers Dr. Tianyu Guo (front) and Marina Mehling. Photo by Jillian van der Geest/UBC Forestry.

Using Wood Waste to Capture Microplastic Pollution

Scientists at the University of British Columbia’s BioProducts Institute have developed a plant-based filter, “bioCap,” that can capture nearly 99.9 percent of microplastic particles in water, offering a scalable and sustainable solution to microplastic pollution. The researchers found that adding tannins to a layer of wood dust creates a filter that traps virtually all microplastic particles present in water.

“Most solutions proposed so far are costly or difficult to scale up. Our filter, unlike plastic filters, does not contribute to further pollution, as it uses renewable and biodegradable materials,” said Dr. Orlando Rojas, the institute’s scientific director and the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Forest Bioproducts.

Applying an Electric Field to a Nanofiltration System Destroys PFAS

PFAS in water requires solutions for their removal and destruction. Thus far, PFAS cannot be destroyed by widely used removal processes such as nanofiltration.

Linda Lee, a distinguished professor of environmental chemistry, and David Warsinger, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, both at Purdue University, have collaborated on an electric field-assisted nanofiltration design. This new technology, with a patent pending, removed 97 percent of the PFAS from the water samples in an experiment published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal.


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