Laboratory investigations were conducted to demonstrate a potentially transformative, cost-efficient per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment approach, consisting of enhanced coagulation and repeated ion exchange (IX)–advanced reduction process (ARP) for concurrent PFAS removal and IX resin regeneration. Enhanced alum coagulation at the optimal conditions (pH 6.0, 60 mg/L alum) could preferentially remove high molecular-weight, hydrophobic natural organic matter (NOM) from 5.0- to ~1.2-mg/L DOC in simulated natural water. This facilitated subsequent IX adsorption of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, a model PFAS in this study) (20 μg/L) using IRA67 resin by minimizing the competition of NOM for functional sites on the resin. The PFOA/NOM-laden resin was then treated by ARP, generating hydrated electrons (eaq−) that effectively degraded PFOA. The combined IX-ARP regeneration process was applied over six cycles to treat PFOA in pre-coagulated simulated natural water, nearly doubling the PFOA removal compared with the control group without ARP regeneration. This study underscores the potential of enhanced coagulation coupled with cyclic IX-ARP regeneration as a promising, cost-effective solution for addressing PFOA pollution in water. Practitioner Points: Enhanced alum coagulation can substantially mitigate NOM to favor the following IX removal of PFOA in water. Cyclic IX adsorption–ARP regeneration offers an effective, potentially economical solution to the PFOA pollution in water. ARP can effectively degrade PFOA during the ARP regeneration of PFOA/NOM-laden resin.
- advanced reduction processes (ARPs)
- hydrated electrons
- ion exchange resins
- natural organic matter (NOM)
- per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
- resin regeneration