Canadian university creates water treatment system that eliminates “forever chemicals” from drinking water once and for all.
- June 1, 2023
- Posted by: Sinead Sprigg
- Category: Engineering, Environmental, Water Treatment, North America
Engineers at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, have developed a groundbreaking water treatment system that effectively eliminates “forever chemicals” from drinking water. These chemicals, known as PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances), are synthetic compounds commonly found in industrial and consumer products due to their resistance to heat, water, and oil. However, PFAS are persistent in the environment and can accumulate in the human body, posing significant health risks such as hormonal imbalance, cardiovascular disease, developmental issues, and cancer.
To address this problem, Dr. Madjid Mohseni, a chemical and biological engineering professor at UBC, and his team created a unique adsorbing material capable of capturing all the PFAS present in water. “Think Brita filter, but a thousand times better,” says Dr. Madjid Mohseni. The material effectively traps and holds the PFAS particles, which are then destroyed using electrochemical and photochemical techniques developed at the Mohseni lab.
While there are existing treatments like activated carbon and ion-exchange systems, they are not as effective in capturing all types of PFAS or require longer treatment times. In contrast, the UBC adsorbing media can capture up to 99 percent of PFAS particles and can be regenerated for potential reuse. This prevents the creation of highly toxic solid waste, reducing environmental challenges.
Although PFAS are no longer manufactured in Canada, they are still present in many consumer products, which can leach into the environment and contaminate water sources. Exposure to PFAS can occur through food, consumer products, or drinking water, particularly in areas with contaminated water sources. The new technology developed by Dr. Mohseni’s team is particularly beneficial for smaller communities and individuals who lack resources for advanced PFAS removal solutions.
The UBC team plans to pilot the technology at various locations in British Columbia to optimize its performance. The results from these field studies will help prepare the technology for use by municipalities, industries, and individuals seeking to eliminate PFAS from their water sources.
This research breakthrough offers a promising solution to the persistent problem of PFAS contamination in drinking water. By effectively removing these harmful chemicals, the UBC water treatment system has the potential to significantly improve water quality and safeguard public health.