December 20, 2022

New Method Promises Truly Clean Water

In the never-ending quest to find new ways to clean the water we drink, scientists have devised a new method that shows promise in breaking down “forever chemicals”.

Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) don’t naturally degrade and are ever-present in the water cycle due to their strong chemical bonds. PFAS offer a unique silver lining in that they are used in many manufacturing processes involving clothing and cookware, but their main problem is that they are harmful.

Filtering these substances out of drinking water is fast becoming a general health concern across the globe as PFAS levels have steadily increased in recent years, and these chemicals have been linked to low birth weight, thyroid disease and heightened risk for certain cancers.

Enter a team of researchers from University of California, Riverside who have developed a new method which involves mixing the PFAS with hydrogen, then subjecting the solution to ultraviolet light. Not only does this destroy any pollutants, it undoes the toxic carbon-fluoride bonds and renders the PFAS into harmless byproducts.

“The technology has shown very promising results in the destruction of PFAS in both drinking water and different types of industrial wastewater,” said co-author Haizhou Liu in a statement released last Monday, 12 December.

The technique – which is patent-pending – is efficient and environmentally-friendly, and Liu’s team hope to fine-tune the technology for mass rollout in the near future.