Sandia researchers developing domestic PFAS water filter

June 6, 2023
Sandia National Laboratories is investing in the commercialization of materials that aim to filter 99% of PFAS from water in either a large scale or a household setting.

Sandia National Laboratories announced that it is investing money to commercialize a unique filtration treatment for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

A research team within Sandia is working to create a filter that could not only eliminate PFAS in water on a large scale but also in a household setting.

“This could be something that could be deployed for major remediations or could be something that could be kept under your sink,” said Andrew Knight, a chemist at Sandia. “If the initial treatment is already done, what does come through the water treatment facility through your faucet can be filtered by you, prior to end use.”

With $100,000 in recently awarded funds from the Sandia Technology Maturation Program, the team hopes to build its data to show how well the materials work. The goal is to commercialize the product to remove 99% of PFAS from water.

“We are working to design materials that are more selective in absorbing PFAS. Traditional methods involve ion exchange of resins or granulated activated carbon. While these are effective at absorbing some PFAS, they lack specificity and versatility,” Knight said.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer products that resist heat, oil, stains and water. They are also known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment but can move through soil and water and build up in wildlife and humans.

While human health effects from low levels of PFAS have yet to be defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists have documented 12 types of PFAS in people tested and four types of PFAS in every human tested, revealing widespread exposure in the U.S. population. Tests on laboratory animals using high levels of PFAS exposure have shown an increased risk of cancer, liver damage and compromised immune systems.

Sandia National Laboratories is a laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

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