Peter R. Jaffé
William L. Knapp '47 Professor of Civil Engineering
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Associate Director for Research at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Peter Jaffé is the William L. Knapp '47 Professor of Civil Engineering, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Associate Director for Research at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, at Princeton University. His background is in chemical engineering, and he obtained a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1981. He was a faculty member at the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela from 1983 to 1985 prior to joining the faculty of Civil Engineering at Princeton University in 1985, where he was department chair from 1999 to 2005. He was an AT&T Industrial Ecology Fellow, is an Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and was appointed as Board Certified Environmental Engineering Member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers by Eminence.
His research focuses on processes governing the transport and transformation of pollutants in the environment, and their application towards the remediation of contaminated systems. Areas of current emphasis include: (1) simulation and analysis at the watershed scale of nutrient cycling; (2) dynamics of trace metals, radionuclides, and trace organics in sediments, wetland soils, and groundwater; and (3) novel biological processes for anaerobic ammonium oxidation and its applications for water treatment and cometabolic pollutant remediation.
Defluorination of PFAS via Ammonium Oxidation under Iron Reducing Conditions
The oxidation of ammonium (NH4+) under iron-reducing conditions, referred to as Feammox, is a pathway in the Nitrogen cycle where NH4+ is oxidized to NO2- and ferric iron [Fe(III)] is reduced to ferrous iron [Fe(II)]. The gnome of the organism responsible for this process, Acidimicrobiaceae sp. A6 (referred to as A6), has been sequenced, and a group of novel oxygenase-related genes were identified. Since oxygenases are key in the aerobic degradation of many organic compounds, we have tested and shown that pure and A6 enrichment cultures can degrade tetra- and tri-chloroethylene. Interestingly, the genome of A6 also contains genes for reductive dehalogenases, which are not expressed when NH4+ is oxidized under iron-reducing conditions. Incubations were conducted with a series of PFAS including PFOA and PFOS. Results show that all of these PFAS were defluorinated, at least partially and some completely, and that during the incubations the dehalogenase genes were expressed. Analyses of intermediates, fluoride ions produced, as well as Fe(II) produced and NH4+ oxidized during these incubations, show that that fluorine was used as electron acceptor during the deflourination of these PFAS. To our knowledge this is the first reported anaerobic mineralization of perfluorinated compounds such as PFOA and PFOS.
Co-Author: Shan Huang, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University