Recalcitrant Biosolid PFAS Degradation via a Novel Electrofermentation Process

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a class of highly toxic emerging contaminants that accumulate in the biosolids of water resource recovery facilities (WRRF), posing human health risks and limiting their potential for reuse in land application. This project aims to develop a new integrated electrochemical-biological (IEB) electro-fermentation (EF) process, that simultaneously degrades recalcitrant PFAS in municipal WRRF biosolids while also accelerating the production of valuable biogas from residual waste organics. This innovative biosolid processing strategy can sustainably couple PFAS degradation with renewable energy production while avoiding the cost-restrictive high temperatures and pressures demanded by existing technologies. Innovative 3D biocathodes will supply reducing equivalents to anaerobic mixed cultures to enrich electroactive bacteria (EAB) and organohalide respiring bacteria (OHRB) that will synergistically degrade pollutants and convert waste organics to high-quality methane at high-rates and efficiencies. As such, this project fills an important research gap on degrading PFAS in IEB technologies under reducing conditions which is yet to be explored. Cutting-edge genomic and transcriptomic tools will be used to characterize the microbial ecology and identify new OHRB used for PFAS mineralization. Biodegradation pathways will be elucidated using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LCMS) and comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) and technoeconomic analyses (TEA) will evaluate the viability of the new EF system vs. existing technologies. Overall, this project will help train STEM students, improve scientific literacy, and lay out a solid technology platform for concurrent PFAS degradation and energy recovery that can help WRRFs better utilize their biosolids.







Funding: $30K (2023)
Goal: The main research objective of this project is to develop a new integrated electrochemical-biological (IEB) technology, that can simultaneously degrade PFAS contaminated municipal biosolids while also accelerating the production of valuable biogas from residual waste organics.
Token Investors: Joshua Jack and Aleksandra Szczuka

Project ID: 1101