Multifunctional Reactive Electrochemical Membrane (REM) Filtration forPFOA/PFOS Removal

EPA Grant Number: SU839452
Title: Multifunctional Reactive Electrochemical Membrane (REM) Filtration forPFOA/PFOS Removal
Investigators: Zhang, Wen , Reif, John A , Hua, Likun
Current Investigators: Zhang, Wen , Hua, Likun , Ma, Qingquan
Institution: New Jersey Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: December 1, 2018 through November 30, 2019
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2018) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources


EPA launched its drinking water guidelines for PFASs in response to rising concerns of these chemicals toward drinking water security. Many conventional water or wastewater treatment processes are ineffective at removing perfluorochemicals due to their strong resistance to hydrolysis, photolysis, and chemical or microbial degradation. This proposal will perform a holistic evaluation of removal of PFASs via REM filtration, which combines ultrafiltration and electrochemical oxidation. REM acts as a filter and anode that reacts with PFASs. Our prior researches indicated that the current point-of-use (POU) treatment devices mostly rely on filtration and absorption, which involve no chemical degradation of pollutants. Our 130 customer interviews confirmed that REM filtration is a novel and highly needed technology for a variety of users such as residential drinking water users. Also, the project research will help PI develop new teaching modules, laboratory manuals, innovative learning activities, and professional development activities targeted at a diverse student population. Interdisciplinary research training and educational activities are included in collaboration with industrial partners. These partnerships will lead to effective data dissemination to the public, potential customers, communities, municipalities, states, and drinking water managers.


Our objectives are to demonstrate that (1) REM will have unparalleled performance of removing PFASs; (2) REM will have high stability to chemical degradation and high resistance to surface fouling compared to polymer membranes. To explore these research questions, this project will employ cutting-edge and unique technologies such as GC/MS to identify the permeate composition. This project will deliver new insight into the development of novel and sustainable water treatment technologies to support POU applications in residential and small community water purification.

Expected Results:

This research will develop novel reactive and anti-fouling REM filtration devices that are deployed on endpoint of water supply (e.g., tap water facet, water fountain, portable drinking machines and mobile drinking water treatment facilities) and can be operated on a DC power source (e.g., AAA battery). The research outputs will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals, guidance documents, decision support tools, demonstration, reports, and presentations or product demonstrations. These achievement and quality could be tracked and measured by the number and quality of our peer-reviewed article publications, oral/poster presentations in workshops or conferences, US patents, partnerships and field tests or demonstrations. The outcome measures include reduction of public exposure to emerging contaminants, improved water quality, and subsequent environmental and human health improvements.

Contribution to Pollution Prevention or Control: U.S. residents might be exposed to drinking water that exceeds the EPA's health advisory levels (HALs) of emerging compounds such as PFOA and PFOS, which could result in adverse health effects over a lifetime of exposure. Analysts say eliminating disease and death due to unclean water would reap billions of dollars in health and productivity gains. Membrane filtration is one of the most efficient separation processes widely used for water treatment. In the pursuit of more safe, efficient, flexible, durable, and sustainable membrane technologies, this work will study and demonstrate an innovative REM technology to remove PFOA and PFOS as surrogate emerging compounds. The results will be disseminated to many potential users or fields where high purity water is produced. For example, drinker water customers will benefit from pollution prevention from tap water that is treated via this reactive membrane. Source water treatment plants will increase treatment efficiency for emerging contaminant removal.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

PFASs removal, sustainable water treatment, membrane filtration, reactive membrane, POU treatment device.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report