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Permanent Destruction of PFAS in Landfill Leachates and Wastewater

Year Awarded: 2022
Awarded: $690,000
Team Leader:  Michigan State University

PFAS are a class of persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic synthetic chemicals that harm people, fish, and wildlife. Hundreds of sites across the Great Lakes region are contaminated with PFAS, and these compounds are still widely used in industry. Current treatments remove PFAS from water by filtration, adsorption, and reverse osmosis; however, these methods produce solid waste and wastewater with highly-concentrated PFAS that are often stored on industrial sites or in landfills from where they can re-enter the environment.

The project team is developing an innovative approach to destroying PFAS in the Great Lakes region, and they anticipate their work will raise the bar for PFAS destruction technology. Its success will activate a marketplace for technologies that destroy PFAS, permanently removing these dangerous compounds from the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The team is led by Michigan State University and Fraunhofer USA. They will test, validate, and scale their technology, a magnetically enhanced arc plasma (MEAP), which has been shown to permanently destroy PFAS, removing the risk that these compounds will re-contaminate Great Lakes water. Their work has shown this process to be more effective, faster, and less energy-intensive than other emerging PFAS destruction technologies. The project team, which includes industry, academic, municipal, and not-for-profit participants, will evaluate MEAP technology’s performance in treating landfill leachates and wastewater – two significant sources of PFAS in the environment – and create a foundation for its widespread adoption after Fund support ends.