On February 24, a Springfield Republican business story looked at Aclarity, a company started at UMass Amherst that uses electrochemical technology to remove pathogens, metals, and other impurities from water. Doctoral student Julie Bliss Mullen of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is co-founder of the company, and the headline of the Republican story noted that “UMass-born Start-up Aclarity Pioneers Path to Purifying Water.”
The article from The Republican Business Desk, as written by Natasha Zena, said: “Aclarity, formerly ElectroPure, is a start-up founded at the University of Massachusetts Amherst by students who wanted to bring water purification technology processes to market. Co-founders Barrett Mully and Julie Bliss Mullen were helped in their entrepreneurial efforts by Valley Venture Mentors to take the next steps in business development.”
According to the Republican, Aclarity is addressing the global water crisis by designing, testing, and developing groundbreaking water-purification devices.
“Developed by Julie Bliss Mullen, a civil and environmental engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Barrett Mully, Aclarity was a result of Mullen's work in the laboratory where she evaluated water treatment technologies,” said the story.
Mullen, now her company's CEO, became interested in novel water-treatment devices that apply electricity to electrodes. "The technology itself is electrochemical advanced oxidation," Mullen told the Republican. "What it really does is use electricity to purify water. It's not a filter.”
Mullen added that "What happens is the water flows in, it's like the contaminator is trapped in the device and then the water flows out. When you think of water treatment in the house, you think of a Brita filter. It's a separation of contaminates. Instead of separating, we destroy them."
Mullen and Mully met in a UMass entrepreneurship class where he was a teaching fellow. During a class pitch, Mullen explained that she needed someone to help her commercialize her product.
They teamed up in early 2017, and in April of that year they won the UMass Amherst Innovation Challenge first-place prize. "We got our first seed funding, which was $26,000," Mullen told the paper. “We ended up incorporating under Aclarity in May 2017, and we basically hit the ground running.”
A patent is pending on the core technology, and the duo are negotiating a licensing deal with UMass. (March 2019)