Two University of California, Riverside, scholars have been awarded a $750,000 grant to develop a practical treatment system to purify the groundwater at Department of Defense, or DoD, sites.
The research of Jinyong Liu and Bryan Wong promises to rapidly remove and destroy a wide spectrum of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, man-made chemicals found in the groundwater around military bases and other sites where aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) is dispersed for firefighting training.
AFFF is used in fire extinguishers to cool the fire and coat the fuel. The foam includes contaminating substances and organic additives that penetrate the soil and eventually reach the aquifer, a permeable rock that can contain or transmit groundwater. This can lead to drinking water contamination.
“We are working to develop a water treatment system to eliminate most of the contaminants in defense training areas. The research we conduct is critical to developing an effective solution that will support national safety by reducing the transport of chemicals, and protecting the surface and groundwater in residential areas,” Liu said.
Liu and Wong are chemical and environmental engineering assistant professors in the Bourns College of Engineering whose research areas include developing advanced technologies for water pollutant destruction, environmental chemistry, and quantum chemistry calculation. They are collaborating with Yin Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The results can be applied to a broad range of water and wastewater treatment systems and contribute to future firefighting formulations with fewer environmental and health implications.
The DoD’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, or SERDP, is funding the research to support the new water treatment system. Projects funded by the agency are led by researchers from academia, industry, and government labs. SERDP is planned and executed in partnership with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. SERDP invests across a broad spectrum of basic and applied research and in advanced technology.