Energy Evaluation of Electron Beam Treatment of Perfluoroalkyl Substances in Water: A Critical Review

Kaushik Londhe, Cheng Shiuan Lee, Yi Zhang, Slavica Grdanovska, Thomas Kroc, Charlie A. Cooper, Arjun K. Venkatesan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Due to their recalcitrant nature and ubiquitous use, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will continue to be major water treatment hurdles. Although effective water treatment technologies exist for physical removal of many PFAS from water (e.g., activated carbon and ion-exchange resin), a PFAS-concentrated waste stream is generated as an end product that can potentially reintroduce PFAS back into the environment. Thus, there is an increased interest in developing destructive technologies to decompose and mineralize PFAS directly in water or in these waste streams. High energy electron beam (e-beam) accelerators have been used for water treatment to degrade a wide range of recalcitrant contaminants, including PFAS, since the 1960s. However, large-scale applications of e-beam for water treatment are restricted due to its high energy consumption and inability to treat large flow rates. Considering there are very few available technologies for destructive removal of PFAS, this study provides a critical review on the treatment of PFAS by direct irradiation of contaminated water by e-beam from an energy consumption point of view. To date, very limited studies have been conducted to investigate the success of this technology to treat PFAS. Results from the limited studies were not directly comparable due to the variation in operating conditions and water quality parameters used in the studies. Here, for the first time, we develop and apply the concept of electrical energy per order (EE/O) to assess the performance of e-beam for PFAS treatment. Results show that EE/O is a better performance parameter than the G value of e-beam for interstudy comparisons and to evaluate the effects of water quality and operating parameters on e-beam performance. We additionally developed a kinetic scheme to predict the performance of e-beam to treat PFAS and revealed that the competition between species to react with aqueous electrons is the determinant factor influencing PFAS degradation efficiency. Comparison of EE/O values of e-beam (range: 31−176 kWh m−3 order −1) with other destructive technologies (range: 5−9595 kWh m−3 order −1) suggest that e-beam, for PFAS treatment, is a promising approach under favorable conditions. This review further elucidates the feasibility and limitations of e-beam technology that could be improved upon to potentially make e-beam viable for large-scale water treatment applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-841
Number of pages15
JournalACS ES and T Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Chemical Health and Safety
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • PFAS
  • electrical energy per order
  • electron beam
  • kinetic modeling
  • water treatment


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