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In-situ phytoremediation of PFAS-contaminated soils to return farmland to useful productivity

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2023-00563
Agency Tracking Number: 2023-00563
Amount: $125,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.12
Solicitation Number: USDA-NIFA-SBIR-009301
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-04-04
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-06-30
Small Business Information
542 Kibbee Rd
Brookfield, VT 05036-9614
United States
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Yanna Liang
 (518) 437-4979
Business Contact
 Lee Khan
Phone: (802) 279-3627
Research Institution
 University at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, MSC 100A
Albany, NY 12222-0100
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Project Summary:An estimated 20 million acres of U.S. cropland are contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkylsubstances (PFAS) as a result of landspreading wastewater treatment sludge and biosolids. Theseso-called "forever chemicals" render fields unusable for growing food for human consumption orgrazing livestock leaving small and mid-size farmers with fallow land significant income lossand contaminated property. Another 5000 current or former military bases and major airports havesoil contamination resulting from the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams. Thiscontamination can migrate to cropland and also effects former base property that has beentransferred to tribal communities. About 3000 PFAS contaminated sites are within 5 miles of triballand boundaries and disproportionately effect disadvantaged communities.In this USDA Phase I STTR project Home Grown Fuels (HGF) and research partner theUniversity at Albany (UAlbany) part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system willdemonstrate PFAS phytoremediation and establish whether the addition of biochar as a soilamendment increases PFAS uptake. HGF will also investigate whether the PFAS in the harvestedplants can be thermally destroyed. The project team will grow hemp and a native grass on PFAS-
contaminated soil amended with different amounts of biochar. Plants will be harvested and soilshoots and roots will be analyzed for 40 PFAS. Resulting plant biomass with the highest PFASconcentrations will be subjected to hydrothermal liquefication at UAlbany using their patentedprocess and treated in a bench scale gasification process to assess PFAS destruction.When fully commercialized HGF's full-circle solution of phytoremediation and PFAS destructionwill be an important tool to remediate contaminated cropland and return it to production across thecountry benefitting small farms. With little training farmers will do what they do best - planttend and harvest crops - to remove PFAS from the soil. Completing the cycle contaminatedbiomass could become feedstock for gasification plants producing biodiesel fuel and more biochar.The economic impact of returning farmland to active use will create jobs and revenue for farmersand farm communities. There is no in-situ PFAS treatment for soil currently on the market and thisapproach will be far less expensive than the only currently available remedy - removing andtransporting the contaminated soil to a hazardous waste landfill. HGFs solution destroys thecontamination rather than simply relocating the problem.HGF submits this STTR application under Topic Area 8.12: Small and Mid-size Farms as itsgoal is to return contaminated cropland to production to support small farms and their surroundingcommunities. This research also directly supports USDA's FY 2022-2025 Strategic Goals. Byreturning land to useful production it ensures that America's agricultural system is resilient andprosperous (Strategic Goal 2) and insures a supply of safe nutritious food (Strategic Goal 4).Making small rural farm and tribal cropland productive again also provides opportunities foreconomic development and improves quality of life in rural and tribal communities often hardesthit by PFAS contamination (Strategic Goal 5).Project Summary/Abstract 1 October 25 2022

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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