Fluorinated compounds from technical products in the paper industry

Evaluation of the transformation, transfer and formation potential using cutting-edge analytical methods (FluorTECH)

Schematic representation of project structure

The aim of the project is to clarify the causes and the extent of contamination with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in polluted areas in the Rastatt/Baden-Baden and Mannheim regions.

A key element of the joint project with five partners is to conduct laboratory tests with technical products and treated materials that have been used in the past in the paper industry. The use of these materials in growth trials provides the best possible representation of natural processes in the field. The ageing of technical products, i.e. the leaching of fluorinated substances and the decomposition and transfer of precursor compounds or their transformation products can be replicated very realistically under diverse boundary conditions (e.g. varying the dry-wet cycles). Investigating the soil, plants, and leachate helps to particularly understand the transfer of fluorinated compounds within these compartments. Field trials and container experiments are scheduled over a period of two years. Lettuce and spring wheat are used as test plants.

In specially designed lab experiments, researchers are investigating the conditions under which precursors leach or transform more rapidly or slowly and which transformation products are generated. These trials make an important contribution to understanding the processes and also provide findings for the companies that manage the affected areas.

Scientific studies help to establish foundations with which to restrict the period and type of contamination and which can be used to identify the cause. At the same time, they should make it possible to predict the future development of contamination over time in the observed regions.