Request for Pre-Proposals – Research in the Management of Per- and Poly- Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Submission Deadline May 1, 2019

Background
The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) Board of Directors has identified a high priority research topic in the area of managing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and has issued a request for pre-proposals (RFP) on the topic to support the long-term needs and strategic direction of the solid waste industry.

PFAS are a group of compounds that are man-made and are commonly used in industrial processes and consumer products such as food packaging, fire-fighting foams, metal plating, outdoor gear, popcorn bags, food wrappers, facial moisturizers, mattresses, carpeting, and cookware. Despite the widespread use of PFAS in everyday products, there are still significant knowledge gaps associated with the management of these compounds.  Although consumer and industrial products have been identified as containing PFAS there have been limited studies that focus on the inventory of the specific types of products that contain PFAS, which ultimately end up as waste materials, discharged to wastewater treatment plants, or in other potential sinks. As regulations are being developed there needs to be sound science to address the many facets related to the management of PFAS-associated wastes.

For the purposes of this RFP, PFAS can include their associated precursors, transformation products, and byproducts. At a minimum, the focus should be on the most commonly monitored compounds that have standards or guidance values in place or being developed. Examples include, but are not limited to:  perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluoro-octane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), per- and poly-fluoropolyethers (PFPE), perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), per- and poly-fluorinated carboxylic acids, and GenX.

The management of PFAS-associated wastes can be through conventional pathways such as landfilling, recycling, composting, thermal conversion (i.e., incineration), and anaerobic digestion. Within these management pathways, a focus should include, where applicable, liquid (e.g., leachate and gas condensate) and gaseous (e.g., landfill gas) emissions. Groundwater quality associated with these management pathways are also applicable within this RFP. Other compounds of emerging concern (CEC) will not be considered (e.g., pharmaceuticals, hormones, and endocrine disruptors). Pre-proposals related to other CEC should be submitted as part of the general RFP.

Research Focus Areas
Submissions of scientific research pre-proposals related to the management of PFAS are invited in the following areas:

  • Identification of Sources and Sinks of PFAS
    • identification and estimation of the quantity of PFAS in products and/or waste materials that makeup significant sources in the waste streams to landfill (e.g., consumer products, manufacturing residues, wastewater treatment sludge, industrial sludge, paper production and recycling sludges, and contaminated soils/sediments)
    • inventory of PFAS detected in liquid (e.g., leachate and gas condensate) and gaseous emissions (e.g., landfill and anaerobic digester gas) and their variability across the solid waste industry
    • management practices for reducing PFAS in landfill leachate
    • estimating the significance of landfill emissions relative to other significant PFAS sources
  • Development of Analytical Techniques to Detect and Quantify PFAS
    • rapid field tests or enhanced laboratory methods to detect (screen) and quantify PFAS (existing technique are time-consuming and complex) in leachate and landfill gas
    • applicability of existing leaching methods to adequately simulate the mobility of PFAS from associated consumer/industrial products within landfills
  • Fate and Transport in Solid Waste Management Environments
    • conditions that impact the mobility of PFAS from consumer/industrial products to liquid and gaseous phases (e.g., pH, pressure, temperature, age of waste)
    • stabilization methods to minimize the transport of PFAS compounds to leachate
  • Treatability
    • on-site approaches to remove PFAS from liquid and gaseous emissions (approaches should also include the management of reject streams, where applicable)
    • treatability of leachate-containing PFAS at wastewater treatment plants (including scalability, costs, and residual management considerations)
  • Life-Cycle and Economic Assessment
    • cost implications of PFAS management (solids, liquids, and air)
    • demonstration of preferred management pathways that are based on reducing potential environmental burdens

Pre-proposals submitted in response to this RFP should consider the focus areas noted herein. Projects and research previously funded by the Foundation can be viewed on its website. Previously awarded grants have ranged from $15,000 to over $500,000 with the average grant amount in recent years being $160,000.  Typical project durations are about 2 years.

Submission Instructions and Deadline
The pre-proposal template must be used for all submissions and is available online. This template also includes details on formatting your submission. Pre-proposal submissions are limited to two submissions per primary Principal Investigator (PI), however a PI may be on multiple pre-proposals if it is demonstrated that it will not affect his or her ability to fulfill the scope of work in the primary investigation.

All submissions must include the project duration and budget. If invited to submit a full proposal, the budget cannot exceed the amount outlined in the pre-proposal submission. EREF will not pay indirect or overhead costs in excess of 25%. Cost sharing is permitted but not required. Additional details on budget guidelines and restrictions can be found on EREF’s website.

Pre-proposals will be accepted online starting 15 calendar days prior to the deadline and up to the close of business (5:00 p.m. eastern time) on May 1, 2019.  Pre-proposals must be received during this window to be considered. Late submissions will not be accepted.

Review Process
All pre-proposals received are screened by EREF staff. Shortlisted pre-proposals will be reviewed and discussed by the EREF Research Council’s Pre-Proposal Selection Committee. This review process can take up to 12 weeks from the solicitation deadline. Full details on the review process can be found on EREF’s website. Investigators invited to submit a full proposal will be given 45 calendar days to prepare their submission.

Educational Projects
Note that one of EREF’s primary focal areas within its mission is to provide education. However, education components such as the development of educational materials or courses should not be included in a proposed project. EREF welcomes collaborations or partnerships with entities seeking to develop educational materials for sustainable solid waste management, including conferences or events, which advance the Foundation’s educational mission.  Grants are typically not provided to support the development of educational projects.  Thus, concepts for educational projects should NOT be submitted as a pre-proposal.  Rather, please contact EREF at (919) 861-6876 ext. 108 or sbolyard@erefdn.org to discuss the concept.

Frequently Asked Questions
Typical questions pertaining to pre-proposal review and notifications, formatting requirements, submittal process (pre-proposal and proposal), typical award amounts and duration, and criteria for submissions are outlined on the EREF website.