PFAS is a group of over 4,700 substances. This means that the contamination looks different in different places. Jacobi has both the knowledge and the equipment to take care of the various contaminants in the best possible way.
PFAS – an issue that concerns us all
The current PFAS crisis is generating an increasing amount of concern amongst governments, the public and those in the activated carbon industry. These difficult to remove chemicals have made their way into water supplies, posing a threat to public health and triggering the development of new legislation from regulatory bodies. As a business, sustainability and environmental issues are a top priority for Jacobi and we feel it is our responsibility to take action to tackle this emerging challenge.
What are PFAS?
Dubbed the ‘forever chemicals’, the term PFAS refers to polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of thousands of chemicals that are harmful to both humans and wildlife. As well as being harmful, they’re also incredibly strong and difficult to break down. Though PFAS have been in use for decades, it is only recently that the extent of the problem has come to light, and, consequently, new regulations on PFAS levels are continuously coming into effect.
The Dangers of PFAS Contamination
Several peer-reviewed studies have shown that the effects on health can be serious. These studies have determined links to various types of cancers, liver malfunction, reduced immunity, reduced fertility, hormone interference, and developmental delays and behavioural changes in children.
How Does PFAS Contaminate Our Water?
PFAS are used in the manufacture of many everyday household items that we have close contact with on a regular basis. Non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing or footwear being the most common sources, but you’ll also find them in food packaging, cosmetics, and carpets and upholstery. Use of these items on such a large scale means the chemicals make their way into our water sources, the ground, and even the air, resulting in them finally ending up in our bodies and creating a global crisis.
Because PFAS can spread long distances via air and water, the substances can be detected in areas where no production or use of PFAS has ever occurred. These substances have been found in places as far away as the Arctic and in polar bears that live there. PFAS is a global environmental problem.
Across the globe authorities are implementing stringent regulations related to PFAS. One particularly notable update is the latest directive from the European Union.
The European Directive (EU) 2020/2184 on the quality of water intended for human consumption, transposed as is in most European counties, has introduced PFAS in the drinking water standard for the first time, and set a limit value of 0.1 µg/L for the sum of 20 PFAS. This contradicts the recent regulation from the European Food Safety Authority, establishing a tolerable weekly intake of 4.4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight per week for the sum of four PFAS: PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, and PFHxS.
This limit would mean that at the current PFAS levels in drinking water, a person of 70 kg should not drink more than three litres of water per week (meaning less than ½ litre per day), rather than the recommended 12 litres per week. To meet these food safety regulations, levels in drinking water will need to decrease.
According to a study by TZW, part of DVGW – German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water, the sum concentration of 2.2 ng/L for four PFAS derived from the European Food Safety Authority study is exceeded in approximately 20% of all samples. To comply with this value in drinking water, around one in five waterworks in Germany would therefore have to operate treatment lines for PFAS removal if alternative water resources cannot be used.
Disposable food packaging is known to contain PFAS.
Activated carbon and ion exchange resins are widely known to be the most effective solution. When the molecular weight of the chemical you are dealing with is lower, ion exchange resins are the best option and if the weight is higher, activated carbon performs best.
At Jacobi, we can offer a comprehensive, end-to-end service using either, or both, of these solutions, alongside the necessary personnel and equipment. This means you won’t need to source different areas of your solution from separate companies. All three businesses in the Jacobi Group come together to provide smooth running and effective PFAS solutions for our customers.
A Multi-Tier Approach to PFAS Removal
It is critically important to take a holistic view of the water quality, the treatment line and target and the local conditions, so as to define the right strategy.
Granular activated carbon (GAC) and ion exchange resins (IEX) are the two most common technologies to remove PFAS. They can be combined or used singularly, in different configuration options (single vessel, secondary polishing, lead/lag…).
GAC is already widely installed in water or effluent treatment lines as it can remove a large variety of contaminants that may be present in water sources (organics, disinfection by-products precursors, pesticides, etc.). PFAS removal can be one of its additional missions. Although the adsorption of PFAS mainly occurs in micropores, Jacobi offers a wide range of activated carbons, with different porosities, from micro to macro, to address the PFAS challenge in each water condition.
For example, PFAS-contaminated surface waters tend to have more bulk organic material than groundwater that makes them more challenging to treat, even without PFAS being involved. Using a GAC with narrow pores would result in pore blockage that may reduce the carbon’s ability to adsorb micropollutants such as PFAS. In this situation, Jacobi offers standardised grades from its AquaSorbTM range, as well as customer specific blends, such as AquaSorbTM Blend, to adapt to local conditions.
AC and IEX is the best solution for taking care off PFAS.
Granular Activated Carbons for PFAS Removal
At Jacobi we address each individual PFAS removal case and provide products either from our large portfolio or tailored to the customer’s exact needs.
This portfolio includes:
AquaSorbTM CX and J200
- High activity coconut-based activated carbons
- Highly microporous adsorbent
- Ideal for home water filter equipment in point of use or point of entry systems
- Extensive microporosity leads to superior adsorption and retentivity of PFAS in water matrices containing low organic background (groundwater)
- Sustainable raw material means these products have the lowest Global Warming Potential
AquaSorbTM 6300 and 6300-M
- High activity granulated activated carbon
- Manufactured specifically for treatment of drinking water
- Combines raw materials to allow a homogeneous activation of each particle
- Tolerant to pore blockage due to their widespread pore distribution
- AquaSorb™ 6300-M is suitable for use in the treatment of PFAS in surface water treatment highly loaded by organics.
AquaSorbTM Hybrid Products
- Customer specific blends tailored to the customer’s needs and treatment conditions
- High performance activated carbon
- Specifically manufactured for treatment of drinking water
- Unique pore size distribution
- May be produced using a sustainable raw material
Ion Exchange Resins for PFAS Removal
Jacobi Resins provides ion exchange resins to treat PFAS problems, to be used either instead of, or alongside, activated carbons.
- Resinex™ PFCR-1 & PFCR-2 Selective PFOA/PFOS anion exchange resin
- Functional chemical group with very high selectivity for PFAS
- One litre of resin can treat up to 200m³ of water with a contact time of three minutes
- Resinex™ PFCR-2 is NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 approved for use in drinking water treatment plants
- Completely eliminates short-chain PFAS with sulphonic function
Due to its very long service lifetime, the Resinex™ PFCR Series is intended for single use and the resins are incinerated once saturated.
Made up of strong bonds PFOA AND PFOS chemicals are hard to break.
Mobile Filter Units
At Jacobi, we don’t simply provide the required product needed to tackle your PFAS problem. We are in a unique position that allows us to offer a full service including as much or as little of the equipment, technical know-how and personnel needed to ensure an effective solution.
This includes rental of mobile filter units, which we can arrange to be delivered and installed at your site by our team of PFAS removal experts. Filter sizes range from 200litre to 20m³ vessels and are able to treat flows from 100l/h to 80m³/h of water. As filters are modular, they can be arranged in series or parallel.
Our specialised teams can also deal with all the required logistics, including media handling, as well as any tests or evaluations that might be needed. Our goal is to provide you with every aspect of your PFAS solution in the quickest, easiest and simplest way possible.
In practice this means
- Using test data and our extensive experience to help you to select the best products or product combinations.
- Helping you to select the filters and flow conditions that will achieve the best possible technical performance. (PFAS is a micropollutant and so contact times are crucial for optimal removal of low concentration components.)
- Providing process analysis and start up support that ensures the filter sequence provides the most costeffective and technically optimal performance.
- Safe, clean and efficient logistics and media exchange with minimal impact on your personnel’s time.
- Using closed systems approved for transporting the waste in a secure way without risk of spillage.
Disposal of PFAS, A Forever Solution
The PFAS problem holds a unique challenge. Normally an application is successful when the pollutants are removed and captured in the activated carbon. In the case of PFAS, only half of the problem is solved. Transporting captured PFAS to a disposal site, even in a concentrated form, will simply move the problem. A forever chemical needs a forever solution.
We have been working since 2022 to develop that solution and we are pleased to say that we now have it. Once transported to our European facilities we are able to reactivate spent carbon with PFAS in our high temperature kilns. Thus, breaking down the PFAS molecules into basic fluoride compounds. This process is monitored meticulously to ensure adequate and responsible processing and we have been certified with the relevant governmental body to treat media for drinking water application. This is a forward step in the forever solution and it’s the most sustainable way to manage concentrated PFAS waste activated carbon.
Being able to reactivate and reuse carbon is proven to have a far smaller negative impact on the planet than producing more virgin carbon, making it the most sustainable option. Finally, it is also far more cost-effective for the user too.
How Jacobi Helps Solve The PFAS Issue
We are constantly seeing developments in this field, in regard to solutions for tackling PFAS or in terms of regulations on PFAS levels. Our approach here at Jacobi mirrors the dynamic nature of the field. Behind the scenes, our research and development teams are continually looking into new ways to manage the problem and how best to make improvements for our customers. When developing our proposed strategies, our teams are mindful of the continually emerging research and take into account studies from the relevant authorities and highly regarded bodies before confirming a solution.
There is no single fix for this issue and so we take a bespoke, case-by-case approach, offering a tailored solution based on the precise details and practicalities of your PFAS problem. We have access to the best modern technologies and extensive expertise within our technical teams, and, after initial analysis and consultation with you, will provide a comprehensive solution alongside full technical support.
Our fleet of filters can be connected preloaded with filter media to treat a PFAS contamination problem.
What to do next if you’re facing a PFAS challenge?
Contact the Jacobi entity in your area or email us at PFAS@jacobi.net, and our PFAS experts, who have solved many problems in various parts of the world, will get in touch. In our initial discussion we will try to get as much information on your PFAS problem as possible. Thoroughly understanding all elements of your challenge is essential, so a specialised questionnaire is produced to systematically gather the information we’ll need. Once we have all the necessary details, our team can assess the situation and make a recommendation on how best to move forward. Jacobi can support in recommending, testing, installing, and adapting the solution throughout the process.