Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering - (M.S.)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Wen Zhang

Second Advisor

Lucia Rodriguez-Freire

Third Advisor

Xianqin Wang


Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), one of the common per- and poly fluorinated alkylated substances (PFASs), is increasingly detected in the environment due to the diverse industrial applications and high resistance to degradation processes. This study evaluated degradation of PFOA in microwave-assistant catalytic membrane filtration, a process that integrates microwave catalytic reactions into a ceramic membrane filtration. First, water permeation of the pristine and catalyst-coated membranes were examined under the influence of microwave irradiation to analyse the impacts of the coating layer and water temperature increase on permeate flux, which were well interpreted by three models. Then, the PFOA removal was first assessed in a continuous filtration model with and without microwave irradiation. Our results show that PFOA adsorbed on membrane and catalyst materials and fully penetrated the membrane filter after reaching adsorption equilibrium. Under microwave irradiation (7.2 watt·cm-2), approximate 65.9% of PFOA (25 μg·L-1) in the feed solution was degraded within a hydraulic time of 2 min (at the permeate flow rate of 43 LMH) due to the microwave-Fenton like reactions. In addition, low flow rates and moderate catalyst coating densities are critical for optimizing PFOA removal. Finally, potential degradation mechanisms of PFOA were proposed through the analysis of degradation by-products (e.g., PFPeA). The findings may provide new insight into the development of reactive membrane-enabled systems for destruction of refractory PFAS.



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