As a Pentagon task force works to come up with a plan to address cancer-linked chemicals in ground water on its bases, a group of civilian researchers is exploring a high-tech solution.
The Enhanced Contact Plasma Reactor made its debut in September at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, according to a Tuesday release from the Air Force, in a field demonstration of its ability to break down per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance.
“We are trying to destroy or degrade PFAS impacted groundwater using electrical discharge plasma,” principal investigator Selma Mededovic, of Clarkson University, said in the release.
The idea is that argon gas from the reactor concentrates perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOS and PFOA, generating plasma at the surface. The plasma then breaks down the PFAS molecules.
"This is the only technology that actually destroys PFAS molecules that has been demonstrated at this scale, it doesn’t just remove them from water,” co-principal investigator Tom Holsen said in the release. “All of the other demonstrations that we’re aware of remove it from the water through filtration so there is still a PFAS-containing waste. Our method actually destroys PFAS.”