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Market Overview

This novel water treatment uses semiconductor particles in suspended or immobilized form which are excited by light in order to induce reactions that degrade or transform chemical or microbial contaminants in water. Use of poly/perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has caused widespread contamination of surface and ground waters resulting primarily from discharge by chemical plants and firefighting training practices at military installations and airfields. Methods that are effective in removing PFAS from water, and are deployable in the form of compact and integrated treatment systems, are being heavily sought by industry. PFAS are highly recalcitrant and extremely challenging to remove using existing water treatment technologies. Clemson inventors have created a method that is able to degrade perfluorosulfates (PFS), which are the most challenging subcategory of PFAS, more efficiently, and at a faster treatment rate.
Ezra Cates
Dawei Wang


Water treatment, PFAS, Photocatalysis

Technical Summary:

Bismuth phosphate (BiPO4) has been explored previously as a photocatalyst for advanced oxidation of organic contaminants. This method applies BiPO4, in microparticle form, as a suspension in water and reducing conditions are established in order to reduce, rather than oxidize, target contaminants - particularly recalcitrant poly/perfluoroalkyl substances. Reduction conditions are created by purging out dissolved oxygen via nitrogen bubbling, and through addition of an organic electron donor, such as methanol. The anoxic water and catalyst mixture is irradiated with ultraviolet lamps inside a photoreactor to induce treatment. Subsequently, the catalyst particles may be removed and recycled using a membrane separation process. The key aspect of the claims of this invention is the combination of BiPO4 and reducing conditions to induce treatment of PFAS, which has not been similarly demonstrated previously.


• Can be incorporated into existing commercial photoreactor systems and is thus readily marketable at full scale
• Faster, in terms of treatment rate, then other methods on the market
• More robust in the presence of real water co-constituents, and simple to deploy and operate

Technology Overview

State of Development

Preliminary Proof of Concept


Sustainable Environment

Serial Number


CURF Reference No.



Ezra Cates, Dawei Wang

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