Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2020


Copyright 2020 Elise Webb


Throughout the United States, there is a growing concern for contamination of groundwater with harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These forever chemicals have no natural degradation pathways and the science community has not had any significant breakthroughs to remediate contaminated sites. Electrochemical oxidation using a boron-doped diamond (BDD) electrode shows excellent potential for becoming an effective therapy for such PFAS contaminated sites. The objective of this research is to provide proof-of-concept that electrochemical oxidation can degrade PFAS, ensure analysis is accurate, and controls of experimental design are optimal. Electrochemical oxidation degraded 10 mg/L perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) under a series of controlled conditions. Overall removal rates were measure using ion chromatography and were as high as 60% after 2 hours of an experimental treatment. Unprecedented in similar studies, the technique cause erosion of the BDD anode, and as a result, the efficacy of treatment decreased.