Call for Partners | The monitoring, breakdown and removal of PFAS in (waste) water

Treated wastewater is frequently regarded as a valuable resource, especially for purposes like agricultural irrigation or reuse. However, wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) often encounter challenges in eliminating persistent compounds, such as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and pharmaceutical residues.

PFAS, known for their resistance to breakdown, pose health risks and are increasingly detected in the environment, including groundwater, which serves as a vital source of drinking water. Hence, there is a pressing need for the development of new technologies and processes to ensure the safe reuse of water waste streams, prevent the release of PFAS into the environment, and safeguard groundwater as a dependable source of drinking water.

The initiative of WFBR focuses on the development of a comprehensive process aimed at removing and degrading PFAS from water, thereby ensuring its safe utilisation for various purposes, including agricultural irrigation, industrial processes, and potable water production.

Our approach encompasses a thorough examination of both separation and degradation technologies for PFAS. Separation technologies such as nanofiltration and electrodialysis will be tested for their efficacy in removing PFAS, while technologies like electrochemical oxidation, plasma treatment, and biological degradation will be explored for their potential to break down these persistent compounds.

Furthermore, the project will address the need for fast monitoring technologies to ensure the safety of treated water for (re)use.

The goal is to integrate these diverse components into a unified and efficient process.

Building upon the insights gained from the previous EffluentFit4Food project, where we investigated micropollutant uptake by crops during irrigation with WWTP effluent, we will apply similar methodologies to understand the behaviour of PFAS in agricultural settings. By assessing the efficacy of various treatment methods in mitigating PFAS uptake by crops, we aim to contribute valuable insights to the field.

The proposed activities include:

  • Experimental testing of state-of-the-art technologies and the development of novel methods for PFAS removal and degradation.
  • Process modelling, design, and cost estimation to optimise the removal of harmful components.
  • Development of robust monitoring systems capable of swiftly detecting PFAS and other contaminants.
  • Investigation of PFAS uptake by crops and the evaluation of water treatment measures to mitigate absorption.

Collaboration with partners

We welcome partners managing water streams affected by PFAS, such as operators of wastewater treatment plants (including water boards and provincial authorities), industrial partners with residual streams suitable for reuse, and entities involved in groundwater management. Additionally, we are seeking collaboration with technology providers specialising in water treatment, analysis, or monitoring to develop further and optimise the implementation of their products.

Partners are asked to make both cash and in-kind contributions.