Australia has unfortunately become a world leader at treating PFAS contamination.
So much so that one Australian firm has sold its invention overseas.
Scientists from a privately owned Australian company, OPEC Systems, claim to have developed a new technology known as Surface Active Foam Fractionation to remove PFAS compounds from contaminated water.
Independent testing demonstrates that the technology simply and effectively removes over 99.95 per cent of priority PFAS compounds from source water, meeting recreational use standards within minutes.
Katherine's three water treatment plants, the two at Tindal working on the groundwater at the fire training sites, and the small emergency plant at the town's filtration plant, use American technology.
Katherine's much larger $15 million plant, scheduled to be operational next year, uses the same technology of sticky resin to extract the PFAS.
There is still the issue of treating contaminated soil at Tindal.
SAFF has the potential to effectively treat thousands of sites containing PFAS contaminated waters both in Australia and worldwide, and brings a much needed solution for those organisations currently storing PFAS contaminated waters on site with no effective disposal route, OPEC environmental division manager, Steve Phillips, said.
The science of removing PFAS from water is developing fast.
The Department of Defence paid to bring technology from the US to treat drinking water in Katherine last year.
The Katherine plant was designed by Emerging Compounds Treatment Technologies that uses a synthetic substance to filter PFAS from water called Ion Exchange Resins.
OPEC Systems says SAFF technology is ideally suited for on-site treatment of PFAS contaminated above ground bulk water stores at places such as airports, industrial locations, refineries and defence sites. It can also be used to treat bore water as it exits the ground, promising relief for rural communities experiencing PFAS contamination in their stock and irrigation waters.
SAFF technology treats PFAS contaminated water on site within specialised fractionation columns. Air is introduced into the column of PFAS contaminated water through a diffuser, and the resulting bubble column rises to produce a contaminant rich foam on the water surface, which is extracted using a uniquely designed vacuum extraction system.
After the first run through, treated water is reprocessed in a secondary SAFF vessel, before being safely returned to the environment. The extracted PFAS concentrate receives secondary polishing treatments to create a hyper-concentrate which is potentially thousands of times more potent than the original contaminate, before being taken off-site for destruction at a certified waste destruction facility.
OPEC Systems has been working on a solution to PFAS contamination for several years in collaboration with industry, government and specialist tertiary institutions.
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