A Green, Efficient, and Catalytic Method to Produce Chlorine Dioxide for the Purification and Treatment of Water

Web Published:

Princeton Docket # 11-2630-1


Researchers at Princeton University have developed a new catalytic method to produce chlorine dioxide quickly and efficiently from easily transportable chlorite salts.  This method operates under mild conditions and without the input of external energy or use of harsh chemicals, circumventing the major concerns of large-scale production of ClO2 as well as providing a low-tech, green option for water purification.  


Production of ClO2 for treatment of drinking water

Catalytic method to produce ClO2 on a small or large scale

Portable kit for water treatment in the form of a cartridge

Large-scale process for water treatment in the form of a flow system



Green process to produce safe drinking water

Requires no additional power, electricity, or harsh chemicals

Catalytic method is fast and energy-efficient under mild operating conditions

Catalyst is reusable and easily recoverable


Umile, T.; Groves, J.T. ¿Catalytic Generation of Chlorine Dioxide from Chlorite Using a Water-Soluble Manganese Porphyrin¿, Angew. Chem., 2011, 50(3), 721-724


Umile, T.; Wang, D.; Groves, J.T.; ¿Dissection of the Mechanism of Manganese Prophyrin-Catalyzed Chlorine Dioxide Generation¿, Inorg. Chem., 2011 50 (20), 10353-10362


Chlorine dioxide gas (ClO2) is a potent oxidizing agent for the bleaching of paper, the disinfection of water and air, and the treatment of wastewater.  The dangers and energy costs of the production of ClO2, however, have limited its use in the disinfection of drinking water to the pre-treatment before disinfection with chlorine, and to the small-scale disinfection of water in remote areas that have little access to high-tech purification methods.

Cl02 offers a number of advantages compared with the use of chlorine gas for the disinfection of drinking water.  ClO2 is a stronger oxidizing agent above pH 7 and in the presence of other chemicals such as ammonia and amine, and is less corrosive.  Cl02 is more effective than chlorine for killing water-borne pathogenic microbes including viruses, Legionella and other bacteria, and protozoa including the cysts of Giardia and the oocysts of Cryptosporidium.  In addition, disinfection with Cl02 does not form the toxic organochlorine byproducts produced during the chlorine disinfection process.  

Current methods for the production of Cl02 in large quantities require extreme reaction conditions, hazardous reagents such as strong acids or oxidants, or an energy-intensive electrochemical process.  ClO2 gas is highly unstable when high concentrations are reached in air, decomposing explosively into Cl2 and O2. Thus Cl02 gas is typically produced on-site, dissolved in cold water at low concentrations, and used immediately rather than transported.  Safer, low-tech kits for the production of Cl02 are available only for small-scale production and typically require long wait periods. 

The method developed by Professor John T. Groves at Princeton University utilizes the chemistry of a water-soluble manganese porphyrin catalyst to produce Cl02 from chlorite ions.  The manganese porphyrin catalyst consumes chlorite ions, an undesirable byproduct in other methods producing Cl02.  The catalyst is also active when immobilized on clay materials, allowing for facile recovery of the catalyst.  The clay-immobilized catalyst could be used for the construction of flow systems which continually produce chlorine dioxide on a larger scale.


John T. Groves

John T. Groves is the Hugh Stott Taylor Chair and Professor of the department of Chemistry at Princeton University.  Professor Groves¿ research efforts focus at the interface of organic, inorganic, and biological chemistry, and one major focus is the design and characterization of novel biomimetic catalysts.  He received the Hans Fischer Award in Porphyrin Chemistry in 2010.

Intellectual property and technology status:

Patent pending

Industrial collaborators are sought to further establish this opportunity as a green alternative for the purification of water and production of chlorine dioxide. The research in this area continues in the identification of more effective and economical catalysts.


Laurie Tzodikov

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing ¿ (609) 258-7256¿ tzodikov@princeton.edu

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Prabhpreet Gill
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
John (Jay) Groves
Thomas Umile