Sustainable Technology Creates New Solution for PFAS Reduction

This article appeared in the Sep/Oct 2023 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

The two words “forever chemicals” encapsulate serious concerns about PFAS but a consortium of companies have developed a system, 4never™, that can literally destroy many of these concerns.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as forever chemicals, have been used since the 1940s in products that are made to resist grease, water and oil. In June 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the chemicals are more hazardous to human health than scientists originally thought and are probably more dangerous even at levels thousands of times lower than previously believed. PFAS have been linked with increased cholesterol levels, decreased vaccine response in children, changes in liver enzymes, increased risk of high blood pressure in pregnant women, decreases in infant birth weights and increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer.

Jim Rosendall, Special Projects Manager for Crystal Clean, says federal regulations are expected to be released in January 2024 that detail businesses’ responsibilities for minimizing the release of PFAS.

“Every industry that is producing or has this in their waste stream is going to have to address it. You don’t have a choice,” he says.

By the nature of their composition, these chemicals do not naturally break down in the environment, so manufacturers must take additional steps to remove them. Traditionally, these involve incineration and storage processes that require various types of products, equipment and labor.

Through traditional solutions, PFAS are moved, but through 4never, they are destroyed. 4never serves as the first end-to-end solution to eliminate PFAS from contaminated waters in a cost-effective, energy-efficient and safer manner.

4never combines the power of Surface Active Foam Fractionation (SAFF®) technology, distributed by Allonnia and manufactured by EPOC Enviro, with supercritical water oxidation (SCWO) to provide a local, scalable, closed-loop solution to remove and permanently destroy PFAS. Ideal for the landfill and industrial waste markets, 4never removes PFAS from contaminated waters and breaks them down into basic, nontoxic elements. All organic compounds including volatile compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile compounds (SVOCs) are destroyed to non-detectable levels.

Heritage-Crystal Clean, distributor and operator of the system, places SAFF units at businesses’ sites to separate PFAS from wastewater, resulting in the creation of a PFAS hyper-concentrate. The mass is then removed and transported to a central facility to be destroyed using SCWO. The SAFF removes 99.999 percent of the contaminants, and the final .001 percent is destroyed using SCWO. The only remaining substances are water, carbon dioxide and salt.

With 4never creating a closed-loop PFAS remediation solution, health concerns due to long-term exposure from landfilling and other pathways are reduced, and businesses do not need to buy traditional parts and materials, such as carbon to treat water.

“The SAFF does all of that, and there’s nothing in it. It uses air bubbles to strip PFAS out of the water,” Rosendall says. “It’s by far the most economical solution out there and probably the most comprehensive.”

4never unites the PFAS remediation steps of separation, concentration, transportation and destruction to provide an effective and environmentally responsible solution for landfill operators and the industrial market.

Learn More About Our Gamechanger

The groundbreaking 4never technology is exclusively provided and operated by MMA’s trusted provider, Heritage-Crystal Clean. Learn more about Crystal Clean’s discounted offerings in Member Benefits.