Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Dielectric Plasma reactor for high through put water treatment with advanced oxidation

Technology #6616

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Reactor discharge propagation modes with powered electrode water jetsPlasma water treatment equipment electrode showerhead
John E. Foster
Managed By
Joohee Kim
Licensing Specialist, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734-764-8202
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Advanced water treatment methods have been the subject of significant research in recent times. Emerging threats from contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and industrial runoff such as recalcitrant carcinogens (e.g. textile dyes and PCBs) has highlighted the need for advanced treatment methods. Current water treatment technology relies primarily on filtering and disinfection and in general does not address organic chemical contaminants directly. Indeed, traces of a range of soluble contaminants, though in low concentration, make it to the tap of the end user. In response, current water treatment research focuses on the removal or the safe decomposition of these emerging contaminants. While there is significant interest in bioremediation as a safe method to addressing organic contaminants, the associated long decomposition times suggests that such approaches will have to be supplemented or even replaced using advanced oxidation methods. Research on such advanced oxidation methods has an important potential to impact the ozone equipment market segment of advanced water treatment market that is of $154M in size in revenues.

High Throughput Amenable Plasma Reactor for Water Treatment with Advanced Oxidation

Nuclear Engineers and Radiology Scientists at the University of Michigan proposed a plasma water purification method to bear a host of advanced oxidation onto contaminated water. The embodiment converts contaminated feed water into a multitude of small diameter jets or streams uniformly centered around a powered electrode. The outer boundary of the streams are enclosed by a grounded mesh. Application of voltage produces effectively a packed bed barrier discharge of plasma flow. This exposes the surface of the water jets to plasma which generate advanced oxidation radicals that such as OH, peroxide and ozone along with UV. The embodiment could also be implemented with a series of concentric cylindrical sheets of water. Resulting layers are thin so that plasma produced radicals completely diffuse into the liquid and thus treat it.


  • Water treatment for underdeveloped countries or mobile military or spaceflight applications
  • Emergency treatment of water in the case of accidental drinking water contamination
  • Water finishing technology for the removal of soluble organic contaminants and metal ions
  • Waste water treatment for water reuse in industrial settings
  • Sterilization application in medical settings
  • Drive non-thermal chemical reactions in solution for chemical processing


  • Produces host of advanced oxidants that can destroy even the most recalcitrant molecules
  • Radicals produced are short lived and would be absent in finished water product
  • Amenable to point of use applications as well as in a high throughput water treatment plant
  • Feed gas is air or the liquid water vapor so there is no need for storables
  • Eliminates the need for heavy chlorination