PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination has been a growing concern among water industry professionals as these potentially dangerous chemicals continue to be found in drinking water supplies across the country.  Though not a new problem, agencies such as the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are now taking more proactive steps to control the problem of PFAS contamination.

What are PFAS

PFAS are a group of manmade chemicals – also known as the “forever chemical” – that don’t break down and can have an adverse health effects on people and animals. Used commonly in products since the 1950s, PFAS can be found in many items including food packaging, commercial household products, clothing, and more. They are considered useful in manufacturing because they are resistant to wear, heat, and oil – prolonging the life of the product.

What You Should Know About PFAS in Water

As products made with PFAS are thrown out and sent to landfills, the landfills tend to contain high levels of PFAS. If waste and wastewater is not treated to remove them, these PFAS can find their way into the environment including water sources which then make their way into humans and animals. In March of 2021 the EPA proposed the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule in order to address PFAS in water. 

This rule proposes standardizing sample collection and testing of water to determine the amount of PFAS. Companies contributing to PFAS contamination can be held accountable and subject to penalty. Therefore, many operations are now making the effort to acquire equipment for removal of PFAS so as to not have possible future fines or other repercussions.

Removing PFAS

As of now, the only wide-scale method to destroy PFAS is through high temperature incineration (view interview from Water & Wastes Digest discussing this). This is because a very high temperature is needed to destroy the strong bond in these chemicals.

Both Multiple Hearth Furnaces and Fluidized Bed Incinerators can get up to temperatures high enough to remove PFAS from waste, but there are some advantages to one over the other. While Fluidized Bed Incinerators can get up to the max temp of 1700°F needed to remove PFAS, Multi Hearth Furnaces can flex temps up to 1832°F providing more flexibility and wear to ensure this high temperature to remove PFAS.

In addition, if parts need to be replaced due to high intensity use for PFAS removal, the cost of spare parts for Multiple Hearth Furnaces is significantly lower than for Fluidized Bed Incinerators and the service life of parts is much longer on the multiple hearth furnace. Therefore, the multiple hearth furnace may be the better option for PFAS removal.

Industrial Furnace Company can provide a new Multiple Hearth Furnace or Fluidized Bed Incinerator equipped for PFAS removal. We can also upgrade existing industrial furnace or incinerator to meet current EPA regulations that include the destruction of PFAs. Contact us for more information.

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