Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Bubbling plasma device for treating cyanotoxin-contaminated water

Technology #6908

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Janis C. Lai
Managed By
Joohee Kim
Licensing Specialist, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734-764-8202
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending
Perspectives on the Interaction of Plasmas With Liquid Water for Water Purification
Plasma Science, IEEE Transact ...> Volume:40 Issue:5, 2012

Harmful algae blooms (HABs) are large growths of microorganisms, often cyanobacteria, which can produce toxins such as microcystins that contaminate sources of drinking water. In worst-case scenarios, the unmitigated presence of these cyanotoxins may require shutdown of municipal water systems until algae growth is abated and proper treatment is performed. Previously, effective treatment required a multi-pronged approach of filtration and high energy treatment, but this combination can be expensive and time consuming. Now, new procedure using plasma aims to provide a faster, more effective alternative for cyanotoxin elimination through chemical deactivation of toxin molecules of all sizes and functionalities.

Bubbling plasma jet enhances filtration

The new technology generates plasma in a stream of bubbles that are flowed through the water volume to be treated. This process creates chemical species that can oxidize microcystins, which are then dispersed throughout the volume via bubble movement. The active process with built-in mixing increases the speed of toxin neutralization and minimizes the need for other cyanotoxin-specific treatment steps.


  • Cyanotoxin treatment for drinking water
  • Organic molecule oxidation


  • Chemically eliminates harmful toxins
  • Bubbling process mixes the treatment volume and speeds reaction
  • Reduces need for additional treatment steps