Pilot project in Wilmington underway to remove PFAS from water

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A pilot project to find a new way to remove PFAS from drinking water is underway in Wilmington.

The project is funded by the state and is being run by scientists with NC Pure.

“We have done extensive work at the laboratory scale, which has led to a few promising formulations,” said Orlando Coronell, a project leader on the effort.

He says the goal of the project is to develop a new substance to remove PFAS from water.

It is unknown if the project could impact the cost of water bills, but Coronell believes it will have a benefit for utility companies.

“It should reduce the lifetime cost of ownership of the technology,” Coronell said.

Cammie Bellamy with Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says they’ve had an ongoing partnership with academic groups across the state, which is how the project ended up at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant in Wilmington.

Bellamy says they already have a facility to remove PFAS from water in Wilmington that uses granular-activated carbon, but they would be open to a new and improved process.

“We’re very interested to see the results of the NC Pure project study in case there are additional treatments that we could add,” Bellamy said.

It is too early to tell how much of an impact the project could have, but the hope is it will revolutionize the process by which PFAS is removed.

“This project has the potential to really help utilities across the country, not just in the Cape Fear region, but across the United States improve their water treatment processes to remove PFAS,” Bellamy said.

Coronell expects the test to last on the pilot scale for a few months.