Skip to content


Creating a system to clean contaminated soil and water

Associate Professor Hyeok Choi and chemistry Associate Professor Junha Jeon

Junha Jeon (left) and Hyeok Choi

What do nonstick cookware, food packaging, and fire retardants have in common? They all use filmforming foams called PFASs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) to repel water and oil and fight hydrocarbonbased fires. Though useful, PFASs have a downside: Due to the extraordinarily strong C−F bonds they contain, the foams do not break down easily under normal conditions and are resistant to chemical reaction, contaminating soil and groundwater near the areas where they are made, used, and disposed.

That's where civil engineering Associate Professor Hyeok Choi comes in. He and chemistry Associate Professor Junha Jeon are using a U.S. Department of Defense grant to devise a system to allow easier cleanup of soil and groundwater contaminated by PFASs.

"Cleanup of environments that are contaminated with PFASs is a difficult, expensive process," says Ali Abolmaali, chair of the Civil Engineering Department. "Dr. Choi and Dr. Jeon's research in this field gives them a unique perspective that they can apply to the problem and use to create a solution that will benefit the environment while saving tax dollars."

Other Stories