QAEHS researchers share in $2.7 million ARC funding for PFAS remediation research

10 Aug 2018

QAEHS researchers, Prof Jochen Mueller, Dr Jennifer Braeunig and Prof Kevin Thomas, have been awarded funding for three innovative projects as part of the national PFAS Remediation Research Program. A total of nine projects across Australia were announced by the Australian Research Council (ARC) (totalling $8.2 million) through the Special Research Initiatives scheme.

The PFAS Remediation Research Program aims to develop new technologies to remediate PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) contaminated environments.

PFAS are now banned chemicals but they are highly persistent and have been used in the past in many household products and firefighting foams. In recent years, PFAS contamination of soils and groundwater has attracted significant attention due to the widely reported potential for human and environmental harm.

The QAEHS researchers form part of three large multidisciplinary teams involving Australian and international researchers and key government and industry partners. Queensland Health have committed funds to support all three projects.

Information on the three projects that QAEHS are leading or are involved in is given below. More information on the ARC funding outcomes can be found at


Investigator team

Project title and summary

Collaborating (partner) organisations

ARC funds awarded

Professor Jochen Mueller

Professor Michael McLaughlin

Dr Jennifer Braeunig

Dr Rai Kookana

Dr Danielle Toase

Dr Annette Nolan

Dr Craig Barnes

Dr Jack Thompson

Professor Jennifer Field

A/Professor Christopher Higgins

Dr Nicole Riddell

Dr Divina Navarro

Mr John Corfield

Remediation of PFAS contaminated soil using soil washing and immobilisation

This project aims to assess the applicability of soil washing and immobilisation as cost-effective techniques for the remediation of per- and poly-fluroalkyl substance (PFAS) contaminated Australian soils. The project expects to establish the efficacy of the remediation of a range of PFASs, including many polyfluorinated precursors of perfluorinated, chemically-persistent legacy pollutants which are of concern. The project will provide a scientific basis for understanding the benefits and limitations associated with soil washing and immobilisation techniques and a more comprehensive understanding of future liabilities associated with formation of PFASs from precursors remaining in remediated soils. Collaboration with stakeholders will ensure benefits are captured both commercially and environmentally, as well as removing a potential and on-going health threat to communities exposed to these contaminants.

Airservices Australia

Brisbane Airport Corporation Pty Ltd


Eurofins Environment Testing Australia Pty Ltd

Oregon State University

Queensland Health

Ventia Utility Services Pty Ltd

Wellington Laboratories Inc


Professor Jurg Keller

A/Professor Stefano Freguia

Professor Kevin Thomas

Dr Katrin Doedere

Dr Pablo Ledezma

Dr Jennifer Braeunig

Dr Craig Barnes

Dr Peter Nadebaum

Dr Ali Farhat

Dr Jason Dwyer

Integrated, scalable technology solutions for PFAS removal and destruction

This project aims to deliver a ready-to-deploy and scalable modular technology that is capable of removing poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from a variety of water sources, including groundwater and surface waters, to make them virtually PFAS-free and therefore safe for human consumption. The concept draws on recent advances in water treatment and electrochemistry that is based on ion exchange, nanofiltration and advanced oxidation. A risk-based framework will be developed to deliver fit-for-purpose solutions at minimal cost for stakeholders and taxpayers. This project is expected to benefit the residents who live in the vicinity of contaminated waterways or consume water from polluted sources.

Airservices Australia

Australian Biorefining Pty Ltd GHD Pty Ltd

Queensland Health



Dr Ilje Pikaar

Professor William Clarke

Dr Paul Jensen

Dr Jennifer Braeunig

Professor Willy Verstraete

Professor Jose Torero Cullen

Efficient PFAS removal from urban wastewater using a novel two-step approach

This project aims to enhance the removal of per- and poly-fluroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds from municipal wastewater by making two simple amendments to standard wastewater treatment plants. Magnetite nanoparticles will be added to the treatment process, which adsorb PFAS compounds and reduce them to acceptable environmental levels. The resulting sludge will be dried and ashed in a simple and novel self-sustaining smoldering process which will render the captured PFAS to small ash, condensate and gaseous streams suitable for established destruction technologies. The project is expected to provide support to water utilities in achieving sustainable water treatment and result in environmental and social benefits to the community.

Geosyntec Consultants Pty Ltd

Queensland Health


University of Maryland