BY LAUREN KEMPE
Almost $1 million has been awarded to a research team at the University of Newcastle to come up with a solution in removing the toxic chemical PFAS.
Latest findings show the agent found in fire-fighting foam is best removed from soil by heating it and turning it into a gas in order for it to be made benign.
New technologies are being developed, including looking at breaking down the chemical and converting it into other non-harmful substances.
UON Professor Eric Kennedy says removing the contaminant in concentrated doses is a priority.
'Our concept is to decontaminate the solid but at the same time making sure the PFAS is completely destroyed into a benign product. It would probably be very suitable particularly where the contaminant is fairly concentrated.'
The team are looking into ways of modifying existing technologies to treat not only PFAS, but other related contaminants.
The process doesn't account for PFAS removal in water, but deals with removal in solids by heating soil up to 500 degrees Celsius and converting it into a gas.
Professor Kennedy is hopeful the solution can be fully proven and put in to use to help those in affected areas.
'I think [The Department of Defence] would be interested once we've verified that the process works. The unknown part of that is not so much the contamination of the soil, it's really making sure that we understand the fate of the PFAS when you heat the soil of a solid up. Then you can be sure that we can account for all the PFAS that was originally in the solid material.'