Advanced treatment of PFAS to ensure the safety of our Water Resources

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Challenge under evaluation

Challenge overview

OVERVIEW

How can we pioneer, implement and advance primary treatment techniques to effectively and sustainably address the presence of PFAS compounds in wastewater, ensuring water quality and safety?

The rise in industrialization has led to an increase in perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in wastewater, presenting not only an environmental but also a health concern worldwide. This Challenge is centered around PFAS, the synthetic chemicals used in a wide range of products resistant to water, grease or stains, which have become widespread pollutants due to their persistence in the environment.

The Seekers attending the Showcase Event for this Nexus Challenge, invite novel or maturing solutions, innovators and collaborators with potential relevance, including systems, tools, new materials, technologies, services, insights, expertise, best practices, start-ups, and identification of promising concepts, any of which can contribute to a submission of interest or with future potential.

Your proposals are invited in these three key areas (further described below), and we are very open to other or combined innovations:

  1. Innovations in sorption methodologies, focused on enhanced material and chemical approaches
  2. Advanced separation techniques, ensuring minimal by-products and waste generation
  3. Groundbreaking destruction methods to reduce PFAS compounds to non-hazardous substances

 

This is a Nexus Challenge seeking partners to join Wazoku Innovation Networks (WIN) for Climate, to provide solutions, technologies or expertise with future potential for this Challenge. The Solver is invited to submit their written proposal. Successful entrants will be invited to Showcase their work, with the scope to pitch your idea to a curated selection of corporate partners from R&D, Corporate Venturing, Innovation, Product teams and beyond. These pitches in private sessions can help you land pilots, investment or other commercial opportunities, and help you grow faster. Wazoku will support you during the process, including mentoring and preparation for any Showcase pitch.

Proposals from Solver Scouts (WIN Scouts) who propose potentially suitable partners are also invited to participate.

- Login or register your interest to start networking! - 

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 (US Eastern Time) on November 7th, 2023.

 

ABOUT THE SEEKER & ELIGIBILITY

 

Wazoku Innovation Networks (WIN) focus on the key themes of Climate, Health, Security, and Inclusion. These networks are where global organizations and institutions connect with the brightest start-ups and technology crowdsourced from every corner of the globe.

Nexus Challenges provide the themes and focus for WIN.

Nexus Challenges use the power of crowdsourcing, scouts and collective intelligence to identify, select, mentor and showcase best in class, often novel solutions. Spanning across verticals including Healthcare, Energy, Defense & Aerospace, Financial Services, Mobility, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Water, Materials & Packaging and beyond.

Find out more about WIN and Nexus Challenges.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Background

PFAS, renowned for their water-repelling properties, have been extensively used in various industries, leading to significant environmental pollution, particularly in water sources. These long-chain compounds are known for their stability, thus being termed "forever chemicals" due to their prolonged persistence in the environment and the human body. Their potential health implications and ecological risks make them a primary concern.

While many nations grapple with the challenges PFAS present, various sectors and regions have begun to demonstrate preliminary treatments and technologies. However, the complexity of PFAS chemistry, the variety of compounds, and their persistence require more effective, scalable and universally applicable solutions.

The ultimate goal is to develop a cohesive, holistic approach to PFAS treatment, ensuring the safety of our water resources and the well-being of ecosystems and communities globally.

 

SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS

Areas to target could include innovations in sorption methodologies, separation techniques and destruction methods, though this is by no means exclusive and approaches that intertwine these, other multifaceted or different innovative treatment approaches are welcomed.

How can we pioneer, implement and advance primary treatment techniques to effectively and sustainably address the presence of PFAS compounds in wastewater, ensuring water quality and safety?


Key Area 1. Innovations in Sorption Methodologies

Sorption is the process by which one substance becomes attached to another, typically referring to the action of absorption or adsorption. With PFAS compounds, their high persistence, water repellence and stability make traditional sorption methods less effective. Sorption is essential for concentrating and isolating these compounds from wastewater, making them easier to treat or remove.

The challenge here lies in exploring materials or chemical agents capable of efficiently sorbing a wide range of PFAS compounds.

Potential areas of exploration include:

  • Novel Materials: research into alternative sorbents, such as bio-based materials, modified activated carbons, or new synthetic polymers that offer higher affinity to PFAS.
  • Combinatory Approaches: utilizing a combination of materials to achieve a broader and more efficient capture of varying PFAS compounds.
  • Measurement & Efficiency: development of real-time monitoring systems to assess the efficiency of sorption, perhaps using advanced sensors or indicators that can detect even trace amounts of PFAS post-sorption.

What novel materials or combinations can be employed? How can the efficiency of these sorption techniques be enhanced and measured?

 

Key Area 2. Advanced Separation Techniques

After sorption, the separated PFAS-laden materials need to be treated or disposed of. Separating PFAS from wastewater without generating significant hazardous by-products or wastes is crucial.

Given the complex nature of wastewater, which contains various other contaminants, achieving a high degree of separation purity is essential. Traditional separation methods might not account for the unique properties of PFAS.

This involves exploring and refining filtration, coagulation, flocculation, or any other separation techniques uniquely suited for PFAS.

Potential areas of exploration include:

  • Membrane Technologies: advanced membrane filtration systems, possibly at the nano-scale, that can specifically target and separate PFAS.
  • Chemical Approaches: chemical agents or processes that can precipitate or agglomerate PFAS, making them easier to separate.
  • Technological Integration: combining physical and chemical separation processes for enhanced efficiency, such as electrocoagulation followed by filtration.
  • Scalability: research on modular or portable separation units that can be easily scaled up or down depending on the wastewater treatment capacity needs.

What advancements can be integrated into current processes? How can these techniques be made more scalable and cost-effective?

 

Key Area 3. Groundbreaking Destruction Methods

Eliminating PFAS from wastewater isn't just about extraction. It’s about destroying these compounds or transforming them into non-hazardous forms, rendering them harmless. Their persistent nature means that even if extracted, they could still pose environmental risks if not properly destroyed or transformed.

Potential areas of exploration include:

  • Advanced Oxidation: oxidation processes that can break the carbon-fluorine bonds in PFAS, potentially using catalysts or accelerators to enhance the reaction rate.
  • Photochemical Methods: the potential of specific light wavelengths in conjunction with catalysts to degrade PFAS.
  • Microbial Treatments: research into specific microbial strains that might metabolize or degrade PFAS compounds, potentially in bio-reactor setups.
  • Safety of By-products: ensure that the degradation of PFAS doesn't produce more hazardous compounds, meaning the need for methods to capture and treat these by-products where a factor.
  • Integration with Recovery: Some destruction methods might produce recoverable energy or materials. Consideration should be given to integrating recovery processes post-destruction.

What innovative solutions can ensure the thorough destruction of PFAS? How can these methods ensure that the by-products are non-hazardous?

Given the deep intricacies of each focus area, it becomes evident that a multifaceted approach, potentially integrating multiple methods, could well offer the best solution or approach for treating PFAS in wastewater; solutions that intertwine the above focus areas.

For example, a combined method where sorption techniques are optimized to work in tandem with specific destruction methods, or where advanced separation precedes a particular form of destruction.

 

Solutions with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-9 are invited; with ideas about WHAT to do; concepts/solutions with HOW to achieve this; collaboration proposals about existing mature technologies and/or WHO can provide these. 

The below graphic will indicate what some potential opportunities from this Challenge might be, if you are shortlisted and there is sufficient potential to Showcase your proposal:

Nexus Challenges have the following features:

  1. Wazoku and experienced theme advisors will evaluate your submission to decide its relevance for inclusion as a successful entrant to Showcase.
  2. The Showcase preparation stages will take place starting within 30 days of the submission due date.
  3. Wazoku will support you during the process, including mentoring and preparation to Showcase your proposal.
  4. In the event further contact is requested following your Showcase activities, you can negotiate the terms of the contract (including scope of work, tasks, and duration) directly with the interested Seeker.
  5. If you are successful in winning any business or investment, a flat 10% success fee will be payable to Wazoku for any financial benefits gained through the process.
  6. Successful WIN Scouts will be compensated by Wazoku from the success fee.
  7. Any confidentiality and intellectual property rights in your Proposed Solution will be managed in accordance with the Challenge Agreement for this Challenge.

 

YOUR SUBMISSION

Please login and register your interest, to complete the submission form.

The submitted proposals must be written in English and should include:

  1. Participation type – you will first be asked to inform us how you are participating in this challenge, as a Solver Individual, Solver Organization, Expert or WIN Scout.
  2. Solution Key Area - the Key Area your proposal addresses; 1, 2, 3 or a combination.
  3. Solution Stage - the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of your solution, TRL1-3 ideation stage, TRL4-6 proof of concept stage, TRL7-9 production ready stage or not applicable (if your submission is as an expert or scout).
  4. Experience - expertise, use cases and skills you or your organisation have in relation to your proposal (up to 500 words).
  5. Problem & Opportunity - the Problem you are addressing in the Key Area and who benefits by your solution (up to 500 words).
  6. Solution Features - the key features of your solution and how they address the problem (up to 500 words, there is space to add more).
  7. Solution Risks - any risks you see with your solution and how you would plan for this (up to 500 words).
  8. Timeline, capability and costs - describe what you think is required to deliver the solution, estimated time and cost (up to 500 words).
  9. References - provide links to any publications or press releases of relevance (up to 500 words).

WIN Scouts proposing potentially suitable partners, will be asked during submission to invite a relevant contact, this being an employee with the relevant authority at the proposed partner. For the partner to be considered as a potential entrant, the same information as detailed above, is required for our evaluation that the proposed partner has future potential relative to the solution requirements.

Wazoku encourages the use by Solvers of AI approaches to help develop their submissions, though any produced solely with generative AI are not of interest.

Find out more about WIN and Nexus Challenges.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 7th, 2023.

Late submissions will not be considered.

Your submission will be evaluated by the evaluation team first reviewing the information and content you have submitted at the submission form, with attachments used as additional context to your form submission. Submissions relying solely on attachments will receive less attention from the evaluation team.

After the Challenge submission due date, the Wazoku evaluation team will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to those selected as entrants to Showcase their proposal, according to the timeline in the Challenge header. All Solvers who submit a proposal will be notified about the status of their submissions.

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