Newly Developed Reactor Destroys PFAS Forever Chemicals With Water

Sep, 2022 - By WMR

Newly Developed Reactor Destroys PFAS Forever Chemicals With Water

In this new reactor, water is pressurized to a supercritical phase that can destroy molecules of PFAS chemical in 30 seconds, with this technology, chemicals can be treated at manufacturing sites

A team of researchers at University of Washington created a reactor that completely destroys Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) forever chemicals. According to the researchers, this new technology may aid in treating chemicals at the site of manufacturing before them leaking out into the surrounding natural environment.

PFAS chemicals include 4,000 various chemical compounds used in almost everything for years. However, with recent studies, researchers have discovered that, these chemical affect human as well as animal health. The researchers in this new study stated this study as an engineering project to build a reactor to break down chemical warfare agents. The idea behind the reactor is to compress water to the extent that it develops a corrosive environment breaking down specific chemicals. This state of water is called supercritical water.

The reactor compresses the water to an extreme degree and converts it into a plasma-like matter, which is neither liquid nor gas; however, is a more new state that breaks down chemicals. The researchers tested the new system in several experiment. They found that, PFAS chemicals need particular supercritical conditions in order to get destroyed. It was observed that perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) one of the PFAS chemicals which is resistant towards nearly 400 °C/750 °F or “mild supercritical conditions”, was found to be breaking down into other components at these mild conditions. However, the when the reactor reached 1,130 °F (610 °C), it destroyed all the PFOS chemicals in only 30 seconds.

According to the researchers, this new reactor system could become useful at manufacturing sites, to destroy chemicals that are determined as waste products. The team now investigates the ability of the reactor to destroy other PFAS chemicals. 

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