PFAS Destruction Process Explained

It’s all about the (Activated) Carbon

For over 20 years, our proven PFAS treatment solutions have been used in both drinking water and wastewater applications.  Our FILTRASORB® Granular Activated Carbon is a re-agglomerated GAC produced from bituminous coal that has demonstrated superior PFAS-removal capabilities compared to other carbons.

While activated carbon can be made from any carbon-containing starting material, we source the best raw materials in the world and have found that bituminous coal is a far superior material for PFAS removal.

“I believe a sense of purpose is critical in everything that we do. Working at Calgon Carbon has really helped me fulfill that drive, providing clean drinking water and air, protecting soldiers through our respirator products. I wake up every day knowing that I make a difference in helping people.”

John Matthis

Global PFAS Team Leader, Calgon Carbon

Remove PFAS in Two Steps

John Matthis, Global PFAS Team leader at Calgon Carbon, details our PFAS destruction and reactivation two-step process to first remove PFAS from the environment and then from the spent activated carbon.  

Step 1: Removing PFAS from Water

FILTRASORB® 400 GAC removes PFAS and other contaminants from water supplies by a process known as “adsorption.” In adsorption, PFAS chemicals present in water are attracted and held tightly to the surface of the pores of the activated carbon as they pass through the carbon bed. In simple terms, FILTRASORB acts like a magnet, and as the water flows through, PFAS contaminants are attracted to the carbon, which is stored in a large carbon tank.

Step 2: Reactivation and Removal of PFAS from Carbon

While the adsorptive capacity of FILTRASORB® makes it ideal for removing a variety of contaminants from water, air, liquids, and gases, what happens to the contaminants once they are trapped in the GAC?

The spent, PFAS-laden carbon is transported back to one of our facilities for reactivation, where it travels through a multi-hearth furnace or rotary kiln that restores the activated carbon to a virgin-like state. Reactivation uses high temperatures in the furnace or kiln, up to 1750 degrees Fahrenheit.

Any PFAS contaminants that survive the furnace travel to a thermal abatement system for further destruction. After the thermal oxidizer/afterburner, there is a chemical scrubber to neutralize any acid gas formed in the process, such as hydrogen fluoride (HF). The abatement system is designed to destroy organics to meet regulatory limits, typically to at least >99.99% efficiency. Learn how we were able to prove >99.99% efficiency in our proprietary reactivation process. 

Once the contaminants are removed from the carbon, the reactivated GAC can be returned to service as part of a return / reactivate / reuse life cycle for the GAC in a circular economy, reducing costs and the carbon dioxide footprint.