BDD anodic treatment of 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonate (6:2 FTSA). Evaluation of operating variables and by-product formation
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The concerns about the undesired impacts on human health and the environment of long chain perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) have driven industrial initiatives to replace PFASs by shorter chain fluorinated homologues. 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonic acid (6:2 FTSA) is applied as alternative to PFOS in metal plating and fluoropolymer manufacture. This study reports the electrochemical treatment of aqueous 6:2 FTSA solutions on microcrystalline BDD anodes. Bench scale batch experiments were performed, focused on assessing the effect of the electrolyte and the applied current density (5-600 A m-2) on the removal of 6:2 FTSA, the reduction of total organic carbon (TOC) and the fluoride release. Results showed that at the low range of applied current density (J=50 A m-2), using NaCl, Na2SO4 and NaClO4, the electrolyte exerted a minimal effect on removal rates. The formation of toxic inorganic chlorine species such as ClO4- was not observed. When using Na2SO4 electrolyte, increasing the applied current density to 350-600 A m-2 promoted a notable enhancement of the 6:2 FTSA removal and defluorination rates, pointing to the positive contribution of electrogenerated secondary oxidants to the overall removal rate. 6:2 FTSA was transformed into shorter-chain PFCAs, and eventually into CO2 and fluoride, as TOC reduction was >90%. Finally, it was demonstrated that diffusion in the liquid phase was controlling the overall kinetic rate, although with moderate improvements due to secondary oxidants at very high current densities.