2021 SERDP Project of the Year Award for Environmental Restoration

Current options to treat investigation-derived waste (IDW) are limited and expensive. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the broader community needs innovative approaches for the treatment of soils and waste derived from subsurface investigations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS)-impacted sites.

Dr. David Major from Geosyntec Consultants, Inc. and his team led a SERDP-funded project to evaluate the use of smoldering combustion to treat PFAS from IDW soils. The team’s initial proof-of-concept effort demonstrated that the addition of small amounts of granular activated carbon (GAC) to sand and surrogate soils could support a self-sustaining smoldering combustion process at temperatures that can remove PFAS adsorbed onto GAC or onto the organic fraction of soil.

The study results demonstrated that both ex situ and in situ applications of smoldering combustion are effective in treating PFAS IDW, with less than one percent of added PFAS being found in emissions during treatment. In addition, the study found evidence of complete defluorination and evidence of conversion from long to short chain PFAS and volatile organic fluorine.

For these significant contributions, Dr. Major and his team received the 2021 SERDP Project of the Year Award for Environmental Restoration for their project titled Demonstration of Smoldering Combustion Treatment of PFAS-impacted Investigation-derived Waste.

Project Team:

  • David Major – Savron/Geosyntec
  • Gavin Grant – Savron
  • Jason Gerhard – University of Western Ontario
  • Kela Weber – Royal Military College of Canada