Projects that blaze new trails in research will receive Dean for Research Innovation funding

Written by
Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research
July 21, 2021

Detoxifying persistent chemicals:
Through a collaboration with a leading chemical company, researchers at Princeton will explore a promising mechanism for breaking down long-lived contaminants in wastewater treatment plants.  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which may have human health implications, contain carbon-fluorine bonds, which are some of the strongest chemical bonds in nature. Peter Jaffé, the William L. Knapp ’47 Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his team have recently shown that a species of bacterium can break the carbon-fluorine bond and biodegrade PFAS. PFAS are commonly found in biosolids from domestic and industrial wastewater treatment plants, and removing PFAS from these biosolids would benefit the environment. Jaffe will collaborate with The Chemours Company to investigate conditions under which bacteria can break down PFAS in biosolids.

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