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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Pilot-Scale Continuous Foam Fractionation for the Removal of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from Landfill Leachate

Smith, Sanne J.; Wiberg, Karin; McCleaf, Philip; Ahrens, Lutz


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are of concern for their ubiquity in the environment combined with their persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic properties. Landfill leachate is often contaminated with these chemicals, and therefore, the development of cost-efficient water treatment technologies is urgently needed. The present study investigated the applicability of a pilot-scale foam fractionation setup for the removal of PFAS from natural landfill leachate in a novel continuous operating mode. A benchmark batch test was also performed to compare treatment efficiency. The Sigma PFAS removal efficiency plateaued around 60% and was shown to decrease for the investigated process variables air flow rate (Q(air)), collected foam fraction (%(foam)) and contact time in the column (t(c)). For individual long-chain PFAS, removal efficiencies above 90% were obtained, whereas the removal for certain short-chain PFAS was low (<30%). Differences in treatment efficiency between enriching mode versus stripping mode as well as between continuous versus batch mode were negligible. Taken together, these findings suggest that continuous foam fractionation is a highly applicable treatment technology for PFAS contaminated water. Coupling the proposed cost- and energy-efficient foam fractionation pretreatment to an energy-intensive degradative technology for the concentrated foam establishes a promising strategy for on-site PFAS remediation.


per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances; water treatment; foam fractionation; landfill leachate; pilot-scale

Published in

ACS ES&T water
2022, Volume: 2, number: 5, pages: 841-851