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Sonochemical degradation of PFAS in ion exchange regeneration wastes

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APTIM Authors/Contributors

  • Mark Fuller, Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology Development & Applications Group (BDAG)
  • Yuwei Zhao, Senior Research Scientist, BDAG
  • Paul Hedman, Analytical Laboratory Director, BDAG
  • Paul Koster van Groos, Senior Research Scientists, BDAG
  • Anthony Soto, Chemist, BDAG


One of the primary technologies currently being deployed for the removal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from water is ion exchange (IX). For regenerable IX resins, concentrated PFAS in the resulting spent brine and/or still bottoms requires further treatment. This research demonstrated that PFAS in spent brine and still bottoms can be effectively degraded sonochemically at 1000 kHz. Overall, PFAS degradation was negatively impacted by high total organic carbon (TOC) and residual methanol (MeOH) solvent (up to 50 g/kg; 5% w:w), but was enhanced by the high chloride. The addition of caustic (up to 1 N NaOH) partially mitigated the inhibition by TOC and MeOH. Sonochemical degradation of individual PFAS compounds resulted in significant mineralization to form inorganic fluoride, but small quantities of volatile organic fluorine species (VOF) were noted. This is believed to be the first report of sonochemical degradation of PFAS in ion exchange regeneration wastes, and indicates the possibility for the application of this technology as part of a complete PFAS capture and destruction treatment train.

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