Water purification company lands $1 million in capital to advance product

  • Aclarity under the sink prototypes, at right, are shown alongside a power supply center in June 2018 in UMass Amherst’s ELab II, where the technology was developed by co-founder Julie Bliss Mullen to provide clean, safe and reliable drinking water. The company recently topped $1 million in capital fundraising. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/17/2019 3:21:09 PM

AMHERST — A water purification company that started in a laboratory at the University of Massachusetts two years ago is selling its devices and forming partnerships with water industry professionals after receiving significant capital from three Massachusetts-based companies.

Aclarity LLC, which creates devices that use electricity to destroy harmful pathogens and bacteria and remove metals and other impurities in water, announced this month that it has exceeded $1 million in its initial venture capital preseed round.

“We are humbled to have this level of support from professional investors who see hundreds of similar deals,” said Barrett Mully, Aclarity’s chief operating officer.

Mully, a Leverett native, is the co-founder of the company with Chief Executive Officer Julie Bliss Mullen, who earned her doctorate in civil and environmental engineering at UMass. Mullen discovered the technology Aclarity now uses in a UMass lab.

Maroon Venture Partners Fund, the Springfield Venture Fund created by MassMutual and the Alchemy Group, provided $650,000 in venture capital that is giving Aclarity the opportunity to improve its operations.

“The new capital will help us accelerate bringing products to market,” Mully said.

Already, Aclarity is doing direct sales to engineering companies advising industrial clients on the treatment of wastewater, Mully said. Aclarity manufactures a device in the basement of a Springfield site provided by Valley Venture Mentors. These devices can handle treatment of 10 gallons of water per minute for various contaminants.

“These engineers, deeply expert on the options currently available, have gotten excited at what this device can do, and plan to take it to their other clients next,” Mully said. “These clients will be a good fit for our larger unit, which can treat on a municipal scale.”

Mully adds that many other water purification systems use filtration or chemicals to separate and trap contaminants. “There are so many technologies and solutions out there that are expensive and unreliable,” Mully said.

With the funding in place, Aclarity’s primary goal is to invest in further research and development into the product, with the current customers giving the company a sense of how well the devices are working.

“We’ll also be able to staff more outreach to potential customers, getting the word out and driving revenue,” Mully said.

The hope is that partnerships eventually lead to getting Aclarity’s devices into homes, offices and industries, and by pursuing National Sanitation Foundation certification, the company can go after improving drinking water in both the United States and worldwide.

Mully and Mullen have been Aclarity’s lone employees, aside from interns, for the past 18 months, though an investor is a new strategic member of the team, and the company will be looking to hire a director of development.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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