Read the full article (American Chemical Society)

“…One emerging technique to degrade PFAS involves forcefully grinding them with metal balls in a moving container, but this technique can require corrosive additives. Now, researchers in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology Letters report a new type of additive for ‘ball milling’ that completely breaks down PFAS at ambient temperature and pressure.

Solid PFAS contamination is an ongoing issue for soil near waste sites, manufacturing sites, and facilities that frequently use firefighting foam. Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends incineration to destroy these substances, but concerns remain about whether this energy-intensive method can effectively prevent environmental contamination.

Another option is ball milling, a process that mixes PFAS and additives with metal balls at high speeds. Collisions between the balls and additives create solid-state reactions that break the carbon-fluorine bonds on PFAS and convert them to less harmful products. A common additive for this process is potassium hydroxide (KOH), but it forms problematic clumps and is corrosive. To overcome these limitations, Yang Yang and colleagues turned to boron nitride, a piezoelectric material that generates partial electrical charges and can accept electrons when deformed by mechanical forces. They now report a ball milling process that uses boron nitride as a non-corrosive additive to react with and destroy PFAS…”