“PFCs” is the abbreviation of perfluorinated compounds, a family of organic compounds containing carbon-fluorine bonds. These compounds are generally used in daily necessities and industry.
Due to the strong binding energy of carbon-fluorine bond, these compounds are very difficult to be degraded in nature, causing harm to the environment and human. Moreover, research shows that PFCs potentially cause DNA damage and lead to cancer.
Traditionally, electro-thermal and burning processes are used to decompose PFCs; however, these processes are not sustainable. Therefore, we hope to develop an efficient and eco-friendly method to keep the world from PFCs disaster.
In our project, we focus on degrading a class of PFCs, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which is commonly used in water-proof clothing (widely known as Gore-TexR ) and the coating of food containers (such as TeflonR).
To deal with this pollutant, we modified E. coli to produce a special enzyme that breaks C-F bonds, making PFOA easier to be degraded naturally. Since most pollution happens in waters, we also designed a device system to deal with PFOA dissolved in water.