Defence works with Australian research groups and industry partners to better understand per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and improve knowledge on how to clean up or prevent PFAS contamination in the environment.

Studies range from small laboratory tests, through to field level testing of new remediation technologies.

  • Laboratory research covers a broad range of issues such as uptake of PFAS in plants and animals, and understanding how PFAS interact with materials such as soil and concrete.
  • Field testing, referred to as technology demonstration, is used to see whether PFAS treatment options that show promise at a small scale are suitable for broader application in the environment or treatment facilities. These demonstrations have included new technologies to reduce movement of PFAS from soil and concrete, and to remove PFAS from soil and water.

Defence’s support for scientific research and treatment technologies also contributes to the general state of knowledge and improved management of PFAS across Australia and internationally.

Defence will consider supporting development of methods that have shown success at a laboratory level, and are ready to scale up to the technology demonstration stage. Email for more information.

Defence is currently supporting or collaborating on a wide range of research projects with government, industry, academia, and other research partners.

CSIRO Collaborative Research Program

Since 2018, Defence and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have been working together on a PFAS research program, focusing on:

  • understanding how PFAS moves in the environment
  • options for reuse or disposal of PFAS contaminated concrete and asphalt
  • the effectiveness of using products in soil to slow down the movement of PFAS in the environment

The outcomes of this research are being applied to remediate and manage PFAS contamination at Defence bases, and to develop better processes for construction and maintenance work.

Australian Research Council PFAS Remediation Research Program

Defence supports research undertaken by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Special Research Initiative on PFAS Remediation Research (SR18). Since 2017, this program has funded the development of innovative treatment technologies to remove PFAS from impacted materials.

Visit the ARC website for more information about:

National Health and Medical Research Council

Between 2017 and 2018, the Australian Government provided $12.5 million to establish a National Research Program to study the potential effects of PFAS exposure on human health. The program was funded by Defence and the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Nine successful research applications were announced in 2019.

Other investigation studies

Project name Details

Passive Sampling Device Trial 2017 – University of Queensland

This study demonstrated that a passive sampling device can be used to measure average PFAS concentrations in environmental water over time. This is useful in situations where concentrations change a lot, and cannot be measured reliably using conventional methods.

PFAS in Chicken Egg Uptake Study 2017 – AECOM/Scolexia

This study assessed and evaluated the uptake of PFAS into chicken eggs, where the chicken’s drinking water had been contaminated with PFAS. The results were used to develop advice for communities in Williamtown and Oakey with backyard chickens and eggs.

PFAS Uptake in Plants Study 2016 – AECOM

This study evaluated the uptake of PFAS into common edible plants from impacted water. The results were used to develop advice for communities in Williamtown and Oakey with home grown produce.

Other remediation and management studies

Project name Details

Soil Treatment Plant 2018 – Ventia

The design, operation and maintenance of a full scale PFAS soil washing plant was trialled at RAAF Base Edinburgh. The trial demonstrated over 90% of PFAS could be removed from some soil types.

Foam fractionation 2018 – EPOC Systems

A new way to reduce concentrations of PFAS in contaminated groundwater was trialled at Army Aviation Centre Oakey. The foam fractionation technology uses air bubbles to strip PFAS from groundwater. Following successful trials, the foam fractionation treatment plant technology is now operating commercially.

Photon Water Trial 2021 – Photon Energy Group

A new way to remove PFAS from contaminated groundwater is trialled at Jervis Bay Range Facility. The technology aims to destroy PFAS directly in the ground, without needing to pump out the water before treating it. It uses a mix of chemical agents and electrical currents.