More than $1.4million awarded to investigate PFAS remediation

Thursday, 3 October 2019

The University of Newcastle has established itself as leader in PFAS remediation research, receiving more than $1.4 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for two of the four national research projects selected in Round Two of the PFAS Remediation Research Program.

PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are manufactured chemicals used in products that resist heat, oil, stains and water and have been used in Australia and around the world in many common household products and specialty applications. The release of PFAS into the environment has become a concern, as chemicals can persist in humans, animals and the environment.

Funded through the ARC Special Research Initiatives scheme, the PFAS Remediation Research Program supports the development of innovative technologies to investigate and remediate PFAS-contaminated soil, groundwater, waterways and marine systems.

Professor Behdad Moghtaderi from the Priority Research Centre for Frontier Energy Technologies & Utilisation received $820,000, while $589,007 was awarded to Dr Cheng Fang at the Global Centre for Environmental Remediation.

Focusing on the development and advancement of the PFAS Harvester, a technology designed to help combat PFAS contamination, Professor Moghtaderi and his team are researching the novel poly-generation thermal process for combined destruction of and resource recovery from PFAS-contaminated matter.

Professor Moghtaderi said his project aims to deliver the scientific building blocks necessary for development of the Harvester; representing a vital step towards an end-to-end PFAS remediation solution.

“We’re trying to determine the fundamental science underpinning the creation of the PFAS Harvester and identify operating conditions necessary to support its commercial rollout,” Professor Moghtaderi said.

“The project will pay special attention to field testing of a pilot-scale prototype of the technology using PFAS concentrates generated at an active remediation site,” he said.

Dr Cheng Fang and his team are using a combination of electrochemistry and sonochemistry to destroy and detoxify PFAS.

Dr Fang said his project will target slurry waste from current remediation and adsorption plants to degrade PFAS, rather than just remove it.

“The project will combine electrochemical oxidation with sonochemistry to enhance degradation capacity, accelerate PFAS desorption, and ultimately detoxify PFAS,” Dr Fang said.

“This process will help clean up contaminated sites, including PFAS and other persistent organic pollutants, and we hope it will lead to significant environmental benefit.”

The University’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor Deborah Hodgson, said the announcement is a testament to the exceptional quality of research at the University.

“We are proud to see our researchers leading the way to tackle some of the challenging issues our communities face,” Professor Hodgson said.

“I commend our ARC recipients for proposing innovative solutions to a very complex global problem and striving to make a profound difference not only to people’s lives, but also to our environment.”

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.