Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Advisor 1

Jennifer Becker

Committee Member 1

Eric Seagren

Committee Member 2

David Watkins


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) groundwater contamination is a growing concern for the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility. Two of the four wells onsite are contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS). The removal of PFAS by adsorption onto powder activated carbon (PAC) is promising, but the production of PAC is energy intensive and expensive. A potential cost-effective alternative to PAC is biochar. This study quantified the capacities of two halophyte biochars, cow bone biochar and PAC to adsorb PFOA, PFOS, and PFHxS from brackish groundwater. The three biochars were ineffective at adsorbing the PFAS compounds at low adsorbent doses (10-100 mg/L) because of their low surface area. Increasing the biochar adsorbent dose to 200, 500, and 1000 mg/L allowed for comparable PFAS absorption by one of the halophyte biochars.