Center for PFAS Research Faculty Spotlight: Suzanne Witt
Dr. Suzanne Witt of Fraunhofer Center Midwest primarily focuses her research on PFAS destruction using electrochemical oxidation.
Dr. Suzanne Witt is an electrochemist at MSU partner, Fraunhofer Center Midwest (CMW). Her area of research can be summarized as electrochemical applications of diamond and diamond like materials. She currently has various projects that focus on the development of boron doped diamond (BDD) sensors for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and antigens.
However, Dr. Witt’s primary focus is on PFAS destruction using electrochemical oxidation (EO) with BDD electrodes. There are several projects dealing PFAS-contaminated waste from a variety of streams, including landfill leachate, groundwater, and ion exchange regenerates. Her group is currently in the process of scaling up this technology and uncovering the needs for treating larger volumes. (See Electrochemical Destruction of ‘Forever Chemicals’: The Right Solution at the Right Time.)
Dr. Witt’s background and research are an incredible asset to the Center for PFAS Research. As she states, PFAS destruction is one key piece in the overall puzzle that has yet to be solved. Separation technologies are able to remove PFAS from water, but this leaves a concentrated PFAS solution or contaminated sorbent. These are then either re-disposed of, stored in a facility, injected underground, or burned. EO is capable of permanently destroying PFAS and ending the cycle of recontamination.
Dr. Witt and team are eager to expand on their EO work by focusing on issues such as byproduct mitigation and system scale up. Fraunhofer CMW is able to build pilot water treatment systems in house. Dr. Witt along with other scientists also have several strong collaborations with municipalities (Grand Rapids) and industry that can provide real wastewater samples. They are particularly excited about the new PFAS analytical lab because there is no shortage of samples to process.
In addition to the incredible research conducted by Dr. Witt and her team, she has competed in strength sports for 8 years. Her current focus is strongman, but on occasion competes in powerlifting.