Developing Optical Fiber Technologies for Water Treatment Applications

Optical fibers can use and deliver light in a variety of novel ways to solve challenges in the drinking water, industrial water, and biomedical fields. H2Optic Insights TM uses light in the visible and germicidal UV-C wavelengths to develop chemical-free optical fiber-based technologies to prevent biofilm formation on surfaces or remove target contaminants from water.

What are biofilms?

Biofilms are a collection of microorganisms that grow and attach themselves to surfaces and each other in moist environments. The slippery substance adhered to river rocks or the slimy substance that forms in plumbing lines are both examples of biofilms. Although biofilms may seem harmless, the sticky adhesive substance secreted by members of the microbial colony becomes a supportive and protective matrix, making it more difficult to kill bacteria contained within a protective biofilm than planktonic (free-floating) bacteria.

Controlling biofilms in consumer, commercial, and industrial applications is a multibillion business. Biofilms can cause corrosion of metal surfaces, harbor pathogens that cause disease in water (i.e., legionella bacteria) or infections from biomedical devices, increase energy consumption of desalination systems, or result in sensor failures in water systems.  Delivering light to large surface areas or tight channels where biofilm is likely to grow serves as a critical preventative measure against the damage it causes.

What we do

H2Optic Insights TM advances research and commercializes emerging technologies to address unmet societal, commercial, and industrial water treatment needs.  Instead of adding chemicals to water, we use visible and UV light-mediated processes to achieve treatment goals. Our primary application prevents biofilm growth on surfaces using germicidal UV-C side-emitting optical fibers that are available individually or in bundles.  Using our unique approach for launching light into individual or bundles of optical fibers, controllable light delivery or surface reactions occur on our custom optical fibers which have a high-surface area, are flexible, and have a small diameter (<500 micron). We advance research to develop technologies from early Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) to where they can be adopted by end users for full-scale implementation. We work closely with our strategic manufacturing partners to bring products to market. Currently, we are working to develop an optical fiber technology for NASA to control biofilm growth in human support systems in the International Space Station.  We are developing other optical fiber solutions to remove selected contaminants from water using photo-switchable polymers attached to optical fibers.

Scientific Research & Development



H2Optic Insights TM advances research and commercializes emerging technologies related to water purification and providing potable water from early proof-of-concept to where they can be adopted by end users for full-scale implementation. Our team has over 40 years of experience in research and development related to water treatment.  We have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and simulation capabilities to design, fabricate and evaluate novel light-driven technologies for water, air, or biomedical device applications.

We provide design and modeling services for light delivery and management in optical fibers and complete solutions for biofilm control on surfaces. With extensive expertise related to consulting in the field of water purification and providing potable water, we serve a wide range of clients including US government agencies, international agencies, and industrial and municipal clients.

We design integrated LED-optical fiber modules and offer up to 1m lengths of custom-designed side-emitting germicidal optical fibers for evaluation purposes.

About Us

H2O Insights, LLC dba H2Optic Insights is a small woman-owned business founded in 2017 with the purpose of commercializing innovative optical fiber technologies for water treatment applications. Founders Kelly and Paul Westerhoff are environmental engineers committed to advancing research and finding new solutions to address unmet water treatment needs. In 2019, H2O Insights was awarded a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract from NASA in conjunction with Arizona State University (ASU) to commercialize a germicidal biofilm control technology that uses side-emitting optical fibers (SEOF) to scatter light in the germicidal UV-C range.  Subsequent Phase II STTR follow-on work was awarded in February 2021 that includes predictive mathematical modeling and delivery of prototype devices to NASA.