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PFAS and Other Emerging Contaminants
HomeThe PFAS ChallengeHow We Can Help • Research & Development • Industry Leadership

Research & Development

Working ahead of regulatory requirements, our Emerging Contaminants team at Jacobs has partnered with clients, academic partners and remediation vendors to develop and test methods for treating PFAS.  These projects have been partially funded through Jacobs Innovation Grants.

Low Temperature Thermal Desorption

Thermal treatment

In collaboration with the Iron Creek Group’s VP of Operations Roger Richter and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District’s Project Geologist Michael Riggle, Jacobs published results in the January-February 2019 Environmental Engineering edition of The Military Engineer from multiple bench-scale tests demonstrating that low temperature thermal desorption (LTTD) could be a viable option for treatment of PFAS in vadose zone soil associated with AFFF impacts.

PFAS Research Programs

Investigation research

With funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Public Utilities, as well as internally-funded Innovation Grants, Jacobs is working to advance the science in PFAS characterization and remediation.

  • Advancing the Understanding of the Ecological Risk of Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances – Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Project ER-2627.  Collaborative effort with Dr. Chris Salice, Towson University; Dr. Todd Anderson, Texas Tech; and Dr. Jennifer Field, Oregon State University, to assess ecotoxicity of perfluorinated compounds and develop a framework and decision matrix to help guide site-specific risk assessment needs. 
  • Assessing and Mitigating Bias in PFAS Levels during Ground and Surface Water Sampling – SERDP Project ER19-1205. Jacobs is collaborating with Dr. Jennifer Field, Oregon State University, the world’s leading PFAS analytical chemist, to evaluate potential interferences due to sampling materials and equipment, as well as biases introduced through sampling procedures
  • Rapid Site Profiling of Organofluorine: Quantification of PFAS by Combustion Gas Analysis – SERDP Project ER19-1214. Collaboration with Dr. David Hanigan, University of Nevada-Reno, to develop a portable, automated, total organofluorine instrument to reduce cost and time required for PFAS field characterization.
  • Evaluation of Membrane Filtration for the Treatment of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Water – Environment Canada Research Grant. Collaborative effort between Environment Canada, University of Montreal, and Jacobs to evaluate the use of coagulants/flocculants before membrane filtration to increase longevity of membranes.
  • Development of a Novel Approach for In Situ Remediation of PFC Contaminated Groundwater SystemsSERDP Project ER-2425.  Collaborative effort with Dr. Matt Simcik and Dr. Bill Arnold, University of Minnesota; and Dr. Kurt Pennell, Tufts University to develop and validate an innovative in situ sequestration approach to remediation of PFAS in groundwater. 
  • Remediation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Contaminated Groundwater Using Cationic Hydrophobic Polymers as Ultra-High Affinity Sorbents – SERDP Project ER18-1052. Working with Dr. Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, University of Arizona, to develop and validate a more effective and lower cost adsorptive resin for the treatment of PFAS in groundwater systems. 
  • Field Demonstration of Infrared Thermal Treatment of PFAScontaminated Soils from Subsurface InvestigationsSERDP Supplemental Project ER18-1603.  Lead investigators for project utilizing portable low temperature thermal desorption (LTTD) equipment to remove PFAS from soil investigation derived waste (IDW).  Partnered with Iron Creek Group; Dr. Chris Higgins, Colorado School of Mines; SGS AXYS; and Battelle.
  • Application of Adsorbents for Treating Drinking Water Across a Large Recharge Basin – Lead consultant to evaluate 8 activated carbons, 4 ion exchange resins, and two novel adsorbent materials for 12 different source waters.  Program is utilizing rapid small-scale columns (RSSCTs) and on-site field pilot system to generate performance and cost data.  Partnered with Battelle Memorial Institute.
  • Demonstrating the Use of a Novel, Hybrid Polyelectrolyte/Hydrophilic Polymer for In situ PFAS Treatment Applications – Navy Environmental Sustainability Development to Integration (NESDI) research program.  Collaboration with University of Minnesota and Brown University to field pilot test injectable sorbents for retardation of PFAS in aquifers.
  • PFAS-UNITEDD: Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substance - U.S National Investigation of Transport and Exposure from Drinking water and DietEPA National Center for Environmental Research Grant R839482. Collaboration with Colorado School of Mines and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center looking at several key questions, such as to what extent PFAS accumulate in locally harvested foods like vegetables, fish and eggs, and more broadly the relative contribution of drinking water and local foods to PFAS exposure in impacted communities. Further, the team will collect needed data to enable predictions of how quickly PFAS will migrate, particularly through soil into groundwater. 

Looking Ahead

We recently got selected for two field pilot projects for remediation of PFAS in soil and groundwater:

  • In Situ Thermal Treatment of PFAS in the Vadose Zone – Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) Project ER20-D1-5250, collaboration with the U.S. Navy, Colorado School of Mines, TRS, Battelle, and SGS AXYS performing a field trial of in situ thermal desorption (ISTD) to remove PFAS from vadose zone soils, which likely represent an ongoing contribution to groundwater contamination.  
  • In Situ PFAS Sequestration in AFFF Contaminated Groundwater – ESTCP Project ER20-D1-5100, collaboration with University of Minnesota and Brown University to perform a field pilot test of a permeable reactive barrier (PAB) to mitigate migration of a PFAS groundwater plume through the aquifer using sequestering polymers and powdered activated carbon (PAC).