Electrochemical decomposition of fluorinated wetting agents in plating industry waste water
Electrochemical decomposition of fluorinated surfactants (PFAS, perfluorinated alkyl substances) used in the plating industry was analyzed and the decomposition process parameters optimized at the laboratory scale and production scale of a 500-liter reactor using lead electrodes. The method and system was successfully demonstrated under production conditions to treat PFAS) with up to 99% efficiency in the concentration range of 1,000–20,000 μg/l (1 ppm–20 ppm). The treatment also reduced hexavalent chromium (Cr6+) ions to trivalent chromium (Cr3+) ions in the wastewater. If the PFAS-containing wastewater is mixed with other wastewater streams, specifically from nickel plating drag out solution or when pH values >5, the treatment process is ineffective. For the short chain PFAS, (perfluorobutylsulfonate) the process was less efficient than C6–C8 PFAS. The process is automated and has safety procedures and controls to prevent hazards. The PFAS were decomposed to hydrogen fluoride (HF) under the strong acid electrochemical operating conditions. Analytical tests showed no evidence of organic waste products remaining from the process. Conventional alternative PFAS removal systems were tested on the waste streams and compared with each other and with the-E-destruct (electrochemical oxidation) process. For example, ion exchange resin (IX resin) treatment of wastewater to complex and remove PFAS was found to be seven times more efficient when compared to the conventional activated carbon absorption (C-treat) process. However, the E-destruct process is higher in capacity, exhibits longer service life and lower operating costs than either IX or C-treat methods for elimination of PFAS from these electroplating waste streams.