U.S. EPA Challenge: $50,000 Reward for Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS

The U.S. EPA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP); the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the Environmental Research Institute of the States (ERIS); Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy; and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, to co-sponsor a technical challenge regarding the destruction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The challenge asks solvers to submit detailed plans for a non-thermal way of destroying PFAS in concentrated film forming foam (AFFF), while creating the least amount of potentially harmful byproducts.

Currently, the U.S. EPA is investigating all methods of destroying PFAS. Incineration has been used to treat PFAS-contaminated media, and EPA scientists are collaborating with the private sector to evaluate the effectiveness of thermal treatment technologies to completely destroy PFAS. The goal of this challenge is to discover new non-thermal technologies and approaches that can remove at least 99 percent of PFAS in unused AFFF, without creating any harmful byproducts. Although PFAS compounds can be found in various waste streams, the challenge is focused on unused AFFF.

The challenge is intended to encourage the development of new approaches, technologies, or technology combinations that meet the following objectives:

  • Must be applicable for use on unspent aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) from unused AFFF concentrates containing 3 percent and/or 6 percent PFAS;
  • Must destroy at least 99 percent of the PFAS in the unused AFFF concentrates, including PFAS byproducts that may form by volatilization, particulates, and leaching from effluents;
  • Must demonstrate scalability and cost effectiveness for a defined quantity over thermal methods used to treat the same waste stream (AFFF).

Additional features that are desired (but not required) of submitted PFAS destruction technologies/ approaches:

  • Demonstrates compatibility with current production and destruction practices;
  • Avoids creating other toxic residues after destruction of PFAS, including hazardous chemicals identified in EPA’s ToxCast database;
  • Is currently accessible in the marketplace or near-market ready.

The ideal technology would:

  • Perform onsite destruction of at least 99 percent of PFAS in AFFF formulations;
  • Be currently on the market or near market;
  • Destroy parent PFAS compounds;
  • Destroy short-chain PFAS byproducts (e.g., CF4) if volatilization occurs;
  • Destroy or neutralize any unwanted byproducts (e.g., HF) that would need to be incinerated or landfilled in a hazardous waste facility;
  • Be more cost effective than thermal destruction;
  • Have good environmental and public health outcomes (e.g., does not transfer PFAS or any unwanted byproducts into other media);
    Be potentially applicable to other PFAS waste streams (e.g., biosolids, contaminated ground water, etc).

Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker to be eligible to receive an award.

Eligibility

  • Winning Solvers must certify they do not have identical or essentially equivalent work currently funded by a Federal agency.
  • Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment should consult his or her ethics official before participating in the Challenge.
  • Solvers are not required to give up any of their intellectual property (“IP”) rights to the Seeker to be eligible to receive an award.
  • Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 23, 2020.
  • Late submissions will not be considered.

How to Enter

​To submit a solution to the Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge please visit the InnoCentive webpage Uand follow the instructions.