Effective and Complete Decomposition of Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Byproducts in Incineration

Investigator: University of Missouri
Start Date: March 2023
Award Amount: $140,000

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals” are synthetic organic compounds used in various processes and materials that may be disposed as municipal solid waste (MSW) and end up in incinerators. PFAS-laden waste materials (e.g., spent granular activated carbon, soil, and municipal solid wastes) pose considerable challenges to established waste disposal and recycling practices. Our preliminary data indicate that thermal air destruction or incineration is a potentially effective means to fully decompose PFAS. However, certain fundamental problems have not been properly addressed, which are critical to designing a rationale combustion or incineration process. Particularly, the identify of volatile and non-volatile incineration products of PFAS remains largely elusive.

To address these knowledge gaps, this project will examine the critical parameters of incineration and address the following key objectives:

1. Determine the incineration conditions (temperature-time profiles, air flow, PFAS loading, and air-fuel ratio) to achieve a destruction and removal efficiency (DRE) of 99-99.999% of PFAS in MSW;

2. Optimize the incineration conditions to achieve maximum mineralization of PFAS;

3. Identify incineration pathways and end-products of PFAS;

4. Establish a post-treatment train to separate and remove volatile incineration products of PFAS