Synthesis and Characterization of Fluorinated Hydrocarbon Anion Exchange Resins for the Extraction of Perfluorinated Chemicals

EPA Grant Number: SU839454
Title: Synthesis and Characterization of Fluorinated Hydrocarbon Anion Exchange Resins for the Extraction of Perfluorinated Chemicals
Current Investigators: Danielson, Neil , Almquist, Catherine B , Berberich, Jason , Kuehl, Emily , Spilker, Robert , Smith, Abby , Wourms, Hannah , Xie, Ruichao
Current Institution: Miami University - Oxford
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: December 1, 2018 through November 30, 2019 (Extended to November 30, 2020)
Project Amount: $14,999
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


Perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) are anthropogenic industrial compounds used in many applications, including surface coatings, surfactants, and flame retardants.They are, however, emerging contaminants due to their recalcitrant nature; they are persistent and very stable in air, water, and soil environments. PFCs have been detected in water and soil samples all over the globe, as well as in humans and in wildlife and even in areas as remote as the artic.They have been reported as bioaccumulative, with detectable concentrations in humans and in both aquatic and terrestrial animals. For reasons of their stability and bioaccumulative nature, and for possible health effects on humans, efforts have been made to restricts their production and use worldwide.


We propose to design and test a continuous-flow water purification device that uses a novel fluorinated anion exchange sorbent for removal of perfluoroalkyl compounds including PFOA and PFOS from drinking water. Our idea improves upon adsorption technologies such as activated carbon and anion exchange resins, which are not specific for perfluoroalkyl compounds. While it has been demonstrated that these adsorption materials are effective in removing perfluoroalky compounds (PFCs), they are prone to reduced effectiveness in the presence of co-existing organic matter in water. Organic compounds can outcompete PFCs for binding sites reducing effectiveness. We have preliminary data showing the synthesis of a mixed-mode fluorinated polymer-anion exchange resin is straightforward and the ratio of fluorocarbon/anion exchange functionality can be potentially tailored. The fluorous affinity plus the anion exchange interaction should result in improved selectivity for PFCs and reduced competition by organic matter in water. Adsorption kinetic studies in both the batch and column modes are outlined. Because of the complete polymeric nature of our adsorbent, facile cleaning and long-term stability permitting reuse of the material is expected. Our ultimate goal is to develop an adsorbent material than can be used as a point-of-use filter, like a Brita® filter, or as an adsorbent material in wastewater treatment plants for reliable removal of PFCs from drinking water.


This design will have a significant impact on people throughout removal of PFCs such as PFOA and PFOS which have been linked to increased risks in cancer, obesity, and immune suppression. Reducing PFCs will improve people's health to allow them to build prosperity within their communities. The implementation of improved, PFC selective fluorinated anion exchange adsorbents will promote a sustainable planet since the fluorinated adsorbents can be regenerated and reused for many years.

Students working on this project are from the departments of Chemistry/Biochemistry and Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering. Our design team currently consists of the undergraduates of diverse science and engineering backgrounds. Students on the design team will learn to develop sustainable solutions for removal of PFCs from water in impacted communities by considering a range of economic, and environmental inputs to ensure the device's long-term viability. The design team will also educate the Miami University student body about using this technology to decrease water pollution by presenting their work at national and regional conferences, University Undergraduate Research Forums, and Senior Design and Capstone courses.

Expected Results:

Our expected outcomes are: (1) Synthesize and characterization of fluorinated polymer- anion exchange resins (2) Build a continuous flow point-of-use water purification device and characterize binding of PFCs (3) Characterize adsorption in the presence of organic matter and (4) Demonstrate reusability of adsorption columns.

Contribution to Pollution Prevention or Control: This device provides a non-toxic and environmentally sustainable method of removing water pollution that has been shown to be bioaccumulative and lead to possible health effects.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

PFCs,PFOA, PFOS, water treatment, water purification technologies, drinking water treatment technologies, adsorption, drinking water, water purification, potable water, sustainable technology.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2019 Progress Report