Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Enspired Solutions

Novel chemistry tackles water-borne 'forever chemicals'


Catalysts and UV light initiate reactions that convert harmful molecules into non-toxic substances

Spotted: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that are made up of long chains of carbon and fluorine atoms. Because the carbon-fluorine bond is one of the strongest in nature, these compounds do not degrade easily in the environment, earning them the nickname ‘forever chemicals’.

PFAS pollution is widespread and pervasive, accumulating in the human body and causing a range of health effects, such as liver damage, increased cholesterol, and a heightened risk of certain cancers. As a result of this, many innovators are developing solutions to remove forever chemicals from the environment, and water systems in particular.

One startup working towards this goal is Enspired Solutions. Based in the US, the company has developed on-site PFAS-destroying technology that connects with existing water treatment infrastructure. Called, the ‘PFASigator’, the compact and mobile equipment stack disassembles the chain-like PFAS molecules into water, fluoride, and simple carbon compounds – all of which are non-toxic.

At the start of the process, liquid catalysts are added to PFAS-contaminated water, forming a ‘reactive cage’. Exposure to UV light then initiates a ‘reductive defluorination’ reaction that breaks the forever chemicals down into the harmless by-products. The chemistry the system runs on is unique and patented, and the hardware is modular and fully automated.

Other innovations spotted by Springwise that tackle forever chemicals include one system that infuses contaminated water with additional hydrogen to increase reactivity and another that removes PFAS in biosolids left over after wastewater treatment.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead




Download PDF