Researchers’ device zaps “forever chemicals” in water

Happy Halloween eve! The holiday is going to look different for most of us this year, but I hope you are able to safely celebrate in some way. I will be dressed in my completely sealed, inflatable T-Rex costume handing out goodies to trick-or-treaters via a homemade candy chute. Be safe and have fun.

Here are today’s Midwest tech headlines, starting with plastics news from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Researchers developed a copolymer electrode device to attract, capture, and destroy PFAS present in water.

From left, engineers Kwiyong Kim, Xiao Su, Johannes Elbert, and Paola Baldaguez Medina are part of a team that developed a new polymer electrode device that can capture and destroy PFAS contaminants present in water. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer.

PFAS are the so-called “forever chemicals” found in many consumer products, from plastics to nonstick coatings to cleaning products. They end up in soil and drinking water and are difficult to eliminate with traditional waste disposal methods.

  • The tunable device uses electrochemical reactions to eliminate PFAS in water. The researchers say this is the first study to show that copolymers can drive electrochemical environmental applications.
  • The system is touted as highly energy efficient because it simultaneously removes and destroys PFAS, rather than requiring separate processes or devices.
  • “Within three hours of starting the electrochemical adsorption process in the lab, we saw a 93% reduction of PFAS concentration in the low concentration spiked samples and an 82.5% reduction with a moderate concentration spiked samples, which shows the system can be efficient for different contamination contexts – such as in drinking water or even chemical spills,” Xiao Su, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, said in a news release.

Today’s headlines:

🌱 BIOFUEL: Also at the University of Illinois, an international team of researchers did work over several growing seasons to sequence the genome of a wild perennial grass, miscanthus, that is showing strong potential for use as a sustainable biofuel crop. The genome project will guide researchers looking to maximize the plant’s productivity.

🔌 UTILITIES: Yesterday Minnesota-based Xcel Energy announced additions to its $22.6 billion, five-year capital investment plan that include investing $1.4 billion in solar and wind over the next year, reports Greentech Media. The plan also includes pilot programs for other technologies including electric vehicle charging, energy storage, and green hydrogen production.


  • The NMotion accelerator in Lincoln, Nebraska, is accepting applications for its new cohort until November 2. Five teams or individuals will receive $100,000 and other support.

💻 EVENT: The University of Chicago will host the 2020 Chicago Quantum Summit virtually from November 11-13. The focus will be on connecting quantum innovators, companies, national laboratories, and other experts to advance quantum technologies.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s