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Thermal Phase Transition and Rapid Degradation of Forever Chemicals (PFAS) in Spent Media Using Induction Heating

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-26, 22:13 authored by Feng Xiao, Pavankumar Challa Sasi, Ali Alinezhad, Runze Sun, Mansurat Abdulmalik Ali
In this study, we have developed an innovative thermal degradation strategy for treating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS)-containing solid materials. Our strategy satisfies three criteria: the ability to achieve near-complete degradation of PFASs within a short timescale, nonselectivity, and low energy cost. In our method, a metallic reactor containing a PFAS-laden sample was subjected to electromagnetic induction that prompted a rapid temperature rise of the reactor via the Joule heating effect. We demonstrated that subjecting PFASs (0.001–12 μmol) to induction heating for a brief duration (e.g., <40 s) resulted in substantial degradation (>90%) of these compounds, including recalcitrant short-chain PFASs and perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids. This finding prompted us to conduct a detailed study of the thermal phase transitions of PFASs using thermogravimetric analysis and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). We identified at least two endothermic DSC peaks for anionic, cationic, and zwitterionic PFASs, signifying the melting and evaporation of the melted PFASs. Melting and evaporation points of many PFASs were reported for the first time. Our data suggest that the rate-limiting step in PFAS thermal degradation is linked with phase transitions (e.g., evaporation) occurring on different time scales. When PFASs are rapidly heated to temperatures similar to those produced during induction heating, the evaporation of melted PFAS slows down, allowing for the degradation of the melted PFAS.

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