Geo-Derived Materials for the Removal of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

College of Engineering and Applied Science / Civil & Environmental


Per- and polyfluoroalkyal substances (PFAS) are a class of emerging pollutants that are widely found in surface water, groundwater, and wastewater throughout the world. A recent survey reported the detection of PFAS in public water supplies in 33 states in the United States. Removal of PFAS represents a special challenge for water/wastewater treatment due to their unique chemical/physical properties such as high water solubility, high stability of C-F bond, and varied carbon chain lengths. This project focuses on the development of highly efficient and low-cost water filtration materials for the adsorptive removal of PFAS. Specifically, we will prepare and evaluate a suite of geo-derived materials that exhibit positive charge and strong interaction with PFAS. Batch experiments will be performed to elucidate the adsorption capacity and mechanism under environmentally relevant conditions. Results will provide insights into the development of a practical and sustainable water treatment technology.

Tasks and Responsibilities

The student will design and primarily conduct experiments to determine adsorptive removal of PFAS in the lab. The student will obtain skills for routine water quality analysis, such as pH measurement and quantification of common water constituents. The student will also be familiar with advanced analytical techniques that include high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. This task will help the student develop abilities to identify, formulate and solve real-world problems. After generating a large set of data, the student will be responsible to analyze the data using multiple engineering software. Experimental results will be presented by the student in research group meetings, annual symposium, and local conferences to improve oral communication skills. The student will also write progress reports on a monthly basis to improve scientific writing skills.

Desired Qualifications