Nanomaterials with tunable properties show promise because of their size-dependent electronic structure and controllable physical properties. The purpose of this research was to develop and validate environmentally safe nanomaterial-based approach for treatment of drinking water including removal and degradation of per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFAS). PFAS are surfactant chemicals with broad uses that are now recognized as contaminants with a significant risk to human health. They are commonly used in household and industrial products. They are extremely persistent in the environment because they possess both hydrophobic fluorine-saturated carbon chains and hydrophilic functional groups, along with being oleophobic. Traditional drinking water treatment technologies are usually ineffective for the removal of PFAS from contaminated waters, because they are normally present in exiguous concentrations and have unique properties that make them persistent. Therefore, there is a critical need for safe and efficient remediation methods for PFAS, particularly in drinking water. The proposed novel approach has also a potential application for decreasing PFAS background levels in analytical systems. In this study, nanocomposite membranes composed of sulfonated poly ether ether ketone (SPEEK) and two-dimensional phosphorene were fabricated, and they obtained on average 99% rejection of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) alongside with a 99% removal from the PFOA that accumulated on surface of the membrane. The removal of PFOA accumulated on the membrane surface achieved 99% after the membranes were treated with ultraviolet (UV) photolysis and liquid aerobic oxidation.

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Published in Membranes, v. 11, issue 1, 18.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was partially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Cooperative Agreement No.1355438, by the NSF Kentucky EPSCoR Program, and the University of Kentucky Igniting Research Collaboration. OVT was supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S Department of Agriculture, under NC-1194. MAM was supported by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) P30ES02659 grant and the NIEHS/NIH grant P42ES007380.