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Vanessa Maldonado

Michigan State University, Ph.D.
EREF Scholar 2020

Destructive Technologies for the Degradation of Per- and Polyfluroalkyl Substances (PFAS)Project Description:
PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals widely used in multiple consumer products (e.g. textiles, outdoor gear, cleaning agents, non-stick cookware) and industrial processes (e.g. metal plating, fire-fighting foams, coatings, electronics) due to their unique properties and high chemical/thermal stability.

Many of these products are disposed of in landfills, and PFAS has been detected in landfill leachates.  Most landfill leachate is treated, which depending on the technology can generated a concentrate solution containing PFAS or saturated granular activated carbon (GAC). Currently, a number of destructive technologies are being evaluated as alternatives to sending the concentrate or saturated GAC back to a landfill, which it might contribute to higher PFAS concentrations over time. Electrochemical Oxidation (EO) and Plasma Treatment (PT) are some of the destructive technologies that have the potential to degrade PFAS.

In this research, Maldonado targets both technologies, EO and PT to destroy PFAS present in landfill leachates and saturated GAC containing PFAS, respectively.

Maldonado received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the National Polytechnic School of Quito (EPN), Ecuador. She attended EPN from 2011 to 2017. In August 2018, she started a Ph.D. program in Chemical Engineering, in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science at Michigan State University (MSU). Her main research interests are focused on destructive technologies for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) water remediation that includes electrochemical oxidation and plasma treatment, as well as treatment trains for PFAS remediation in wastewater. She collaborates with various student organizations, including the Latin American Community at MSU and Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science at MSU.