Pilot study comparison of regenerable and emerging single-use anion exchange resins for treatment of groundwater contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)

Anderson C. Ellis, Charlie J. Liu, Yida Fang, Treavor H. Boyer, Charles E. Schaefer, Christopher P. Higgins, Timothy J. Strathmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study reports the results of an 8-month pilot study comparing both regenerable and emerging single-use anion exchange resins (AERs) for treatment of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) at a source zone impacted by historical use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF). Two regenerable (Purolite A860 and A520E) and three single-use (Purolite PFA694E, Calgon CalRes 2301, and Dowex PSR2+) AERs were tested in parallel, collecting effluent samples after treatment for 30-sec and 2-min total empty bed contact time (EBCT). Results demonstrate that single-use AERs significantly outperform regenerable resins, particularly for treatment of long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids (PFSAs). No detectable concentrations of ≥C7 PFCAs or PFSAs were observed within 150,000 bed volumes (BVs) after treatment with the single-use resins (2-min EBCT). Analysis of effluent samples following 30-sec EBCT treatment shows that even the shortest-chain PFSAs do not reach 50% breakthrough within the first 350,000 BVs, though differences in removal of short-chain PFCAs was less dramatic. The regenerable polyacrylic A860 resin performed very poorly compared to all polystyrene resins, with >90% breakthrough of all PFASs occurring within 10,000 BVs. The greater affinity of polystyrene resins is attributed to increased hydrophobic interactions in addition to electrostatic ion exchange. Analysis of breakthrough profiles reveals empirical correlation with ion exchange affinity coefficients (logKex) measured in batch experiments. Postmortem analysis of PFASs extracted from spent resins revealed chromatographic elution behavior and competition among PFASs for adsorption to the resins. PFSAs and long-chain PFCAs were preferentially adsorbed to earlier sections in the AER columns, whereas short-chain PFCAs were competitively displaced towards the later sections of the columns and into the effluent, consistent with effluent concentrations of the latter structures exceeding influent values. These results provide insights into the mechanisms that govern PFAS adsorption to AERs in real multisolute groundwater matrices and support findings from other diverse sites regarding PFAS affinity, elution behavior, and competition for exchange sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119019
JournalWater Research
Volume223
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

Keywords

  • Adsorbate distribution
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Ion exchange
  • PFAS treatment
  • Separation technologies
  • Single-use resin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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