Creating intelligent Downhole Foam Fractionation (DFF) solutions
Established in 1992, OPEC Systems is a solution-focused remediation and contracting company. We specialise in the clean-up of complex contaminated sites throughout Australia.
For the past three years our scientists have worked collaboratively with our clients to develop and patent a mechanical, efficient and cost effective ‘downhole’ solution for removing per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from groundwater.
PFAS refers to a group of compounds used in a range of industrial applications including fire-fighting activities at fire training grounds and airports using Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF). Many of these compounds are not amenable to environmental degradation and a growing body of research suggests they pose significant, long-term threats to human and environmental health.
The OPEC Downhole Foam Fractionation (DFF) system removes these potentially hazardous compounds, so that groundwater quality can be restored . It does so by foaming out priority PFAS compounds in-situ within specially designed groundwater wells, which can be strategically positioned within and on the boundaries of contaminated aquifers.
OPEC’s DFF system works by scavenging surface-active PFAS contaminants from solution within groundwater and collecting them in a recoverable foam medium at the top of the wells. A patented foam harvesting system is then used to concentrate, break and remove the PFAS-enriched concentrate from the wells and return it to a centralised control station, where it is further refined into a PFAS hyper-concentrate for offsite removal and disposal/destruction.
OPEC’s team of PFAS specialists is not just limiting its efforts to removal of PFAS from groundwater. Our team is also working on a suite of PFAS-related technologies applicable to waste transport and disposal solutions, PFAS extraction from soil and the capture of short chain PFAS compounds from the environment.
Proven Technology Delivering Outstanding Results
The OPEC DFF system was developed and refined by OPEC Research and Development Scientists at purpose-designed laboratories in Sydney and Melbourne.
The assessment of the lab and field trials was conducted by NATA-approved laboratories using extended PFAS methods. Results and findings were peer reviewed by renowned international PFAS remediation experts.
A robust QA/QC process, again conducted by NATA-accredited laboratories, was undertaken. The results reconfirmed that the OPEC DFF rapidly and comprehensively removes a broad array of PFAS compounds (including PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS and 6:2FTS) from groundwater, with no known adverse environmental impacts.
• Over 99% removal of PFOS and PFOA from groundwater within minutes of foam fractionation being initiated
• Testing results for 31 TOPA-PFAS Analytes
• Found to be effective on a minimum of 11 other PFAS compounds including PFHxS and 6:2FTS
Advantages of the OPEC DFF
LOW LONG TERM OPERATING COSTS
Once installed, the OPEC DFF system requires minimal onsite supervision and maintenance. To ensure optimal performance, a trained technician conducts periodic infield inspections, with many checks able to be undertaken remotely utilising integrated telemetry controls built into the DFF’s intelligent monitoring system.
With nominal labour input after installation and virtually no consumables, long term operating costs are extremely low compared to ‘pump and treat’ or ‘permeable barrier’ systems.
100% MECHANICAL, MAXIMUM RELIABILITY
The only input to the well is compressed air. The only output from the well is concentrated PFAS solution, plus any co-contaminants that are concurrently recovered by the OPEC DFF process (hydrocarbons or VOCs, for example). The only moving part located within the well is the foam extraction head, which is free floating and self-adjusting or fixed according to requirements. This makes the system extremely simple and reliable, offering minimal downtime and bringing long term savings and operational efficiencies.
ZERO ENVIRONMENTAL HARM
Compressed air is the primary gas used to drive the OPEC DFF process, so no secondary contaminants are created and there is no harm to the environment. The relatively small amount of liquid drawn to the surface containing PFAS concentrate can be further treated to produce a hyper-concentrate. The clean residual water is polished to comply with guidelines that will allow its return to the aquifer.
MINIMAL CONSUMABLES OR WASTE PRODUCTS
The OPEC DFF system utilises the bubbles formed by compressed air, as well as the inherent surface-active characteristics of the priority PFAS compounds, to decontaminate groundwater with remarkable efficiency. It does not require significant quantities of costly or difficult-to-dispose-of consumables, such as Granular Activated Carbon, resins or other reactive permeable barriers.
The OPEC DFF process requires no ancillary chemical inputs and, depending on the specific site conditions, the only consumable may be a negligible volume of final polishing medium.