Aclarity, a startup company based on a transformative water-treatment discovery by doctoral student Julie Bliss Mullen of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, was profiled in June by Forbes Magazine and BostInno. Aclarity is one of 30 startups chosen by the Los Angeles-based Cleantech Open for its 2018 business acceleration program. Mullen and Barrett Mully, a UMass Amherst MBA student, founded Aclarity in 2017 and won $26,000 last year from the Innovation Challenge, an entrepreneurship contest run by Berthiaume Center at the Isenberg School of Management.
As Forbes headlined the new company, “Aclarity Has Shocking Way to Purify Water: with Electricity.” The UMass Amherst spinoff is developing technology to remove contaminants from water in a cost-effective way.
As Forbes contributor Jeff Kart explained: “A Massachusetts startup called Aclarity has what it calls a transformational method for clean H2O: Using electricity to zap away pathogens, metals, and other impurities from water. Co-founder Barrett Mully says the technology could solve crises like one that occurred in Flint, Michigan, where lead leached from aging pipes after the city switched its source from one river to another in 2014.”
That's because Aclarity's scalable technology means not all treatment would have to be done at a central location, then piped to people's homes, as Kart explained. The startup says its method could clean water in a bottle, kitchen sink, or even an entire home or city. “Which is refreshing,” wrote Kart, “since excessive lead levels have been found in thousands of water systems across the U.S.”
A portable prototype of the new technology was even taken to India by UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy when he visited there earlier this spring and demonstrated Mullen’s technology in a rural part of the country using solar power.
Aclarity is already developing under-the-sink prototypes to clean water from home faucets and recently took second place at the Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator program to win a $27,500 prize. Aclarity was also highlighted by the Innovation Series, a Peoples-Bank-initiated program that aims to bring more attention and publicity to local startup companies. In addition, Aclarity recently got $225,000 from the federal Small Business Innovation Research office, an amount which will allow the startup to move into the Institute for Applied Life Sciences building, a more formal setting for the continued work.
Mullen, who is still pursuing her doctorate, continues to do validation, testing, and gathering hard data on campus. (July 2018)