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Doctoral thesis, 2020

Treatment methods for the removal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) from drinking water : optimizing existing and exploring novel treatment techniques

Franke, Vera;


Worldwide, the demand for safe drinking water is rising. As drinking water sources are increasingly impacted by anthropogenic and environmental changes it is becoming a challenge to produce safe and clean water. The contamination of water with the manmade group of chemical compounds by the name of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) adds to this challenge. Conventional drinking water treatment is not designed to remove these compounds due to their unique properties and guideline values for allowed concentrations in the final drinking water are low. Thus, there is a need for advanced techniques for the removal of PFASs in drinking water production. 

During the course of this thesis, existing treatment methods were optimized and novel methods were developed. Filtration through granular activated carbon (GAC) filters, originally implemented in drinking water treatment for the removal of compounds causing odor and taste, was evaluated in a full-scale drinking water treatment plant and conclusions on the cost-effectiveness were gained by adapting flow-rates and describing several operation scenarios (Paper I). The technique of membrane filtration was studied in pilot-scale and different types of adsorption materials were evaluated for the removal of PFASs from raw water directly versus removal from the membrane concentrate. The adsorption materials GAC and anion exchange both performed better with larger ingoing PFAS concentrations. Filtration through specifically designed anion exchange resins can be an option for membrane concentrate management (Paper II and III). 

Electrochemical oxidation and was shown to degrade PFASs in various water types, including membrane concentrate (Paper IV). Further, the commercially available technique heterogeneously catalysed ozonation was applied in pilot-scale to treat contaminated tap water and was observed to remove certain PFASs efficiently (Paper V). This thesis contributes to an increased knowledge on water treatment techniques for the removal of PFASs, providing new insights into water treatment options to protect human health.


drinking water; per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances; PFAS; granular activated carbon; advanced oxidation processes

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae

2020, number: 2020:40
ISBN: 978-91-7760-598-0, eISBN: 978-91-7760-599-7
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

Authors' information

Franke, Vera
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Environmental Engineering
Environmental Sciences
Analytical Chemistry

URI (permanent link to this page)