Technology Transfer: CRADAs, Licenses, and Patents

Oak Ridge Technology Makes Its Mark
Turning Corn into Chemicals the Biological Way
CRADAs Executed in 1996 in Oak Ridge
Licenses Executed in 1996
1996 Patents Issued to ORNL Inventors

Oak Ridge Technology Makes Its Mark

Recently released statistics show that technology developed at ORNL and other Oak Ridge facilities is making a difference among U.S. industries. A total of $18.3 million in commercial sales from Oak Ridge licensed technologies was reported for the 1996 fiscal year—an increase of 18% over the 1995 figure. Also, during the past fiscal year, the Office of Technology Transfer for Lockheed Martin Corporation in Oak Ridge executed 59 new cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAS) worth $48.6 million. It also executed 39 new licenses and 2 options for a total of 41 deals.

Technology transfer activities at Oak Ridge
played a major role in influencing six
private companies to either relocate
or open operations close to
DOE facilities here.

Technology transfer activities at Oak Ridge played a major role in influencing six private companies to either relocate or open operations close to DOE facilities operated by Lockheed Martin here.

Licenses can be either exclusive or nonexclusive, depending on the technology involved and the agreement reached by the licensing executive and the licensee. A license allows a company to use a technology, to manufacture a product, or both.

One license issued recently is for an optical biopsy system that uses a laser to determine if a tumor is malignant. The system, licensed to Optical Biopsy LLC, a subsidiary of Venture Alliance of Knoxville and Pioneer Surgical of Loxahatchee, Florida, may soon replace conventional tumor biopsies. It is already in use at the Thompson Cancer Survival Center in Knoxville.

Another license was issued last fiscal year to Turtle Mountain Communications of Maryville for a button-sized lens system that may enable the manufacture of video cameras and transmitters no bigger than a microcassette. (See p. 102 for a story on a partnership and license.)

Other noteworthy accomplishments for the 1996 fiscal year include $1 million in royalty income from licenses and execution of the first municipal CRADA with Los Angeles County. This CRADA focuses on solving water pollution problems caused by urban storm water.

Through CRADAS, government and industrial partners collaborate on ideas, share costs, and pool the results of a particular research and development program to bring technologies to the marketplace. Private partners provide resources for the research effort, while ORNL or other DOE laboratories provide personnel, facilities, equipment, or other nonmonetary resources.

Customer surveys show that industrial firms are pleased with the services provided by government partners in CRADAs. In 1996, the amount of cash brought to Oak Ridge ($1.5 million) by private companies in support of CRADAs exceeded the typical “in-kind support” of any previous year. So it’s been a win-win situation for all.

CRADAs Executed in 1996 in Oak Ridge
Partner(s) Technology Principal Investigator
NCMS Rapid response manufacturing W. D. Cain
Golden Technologies, Inc. Design, development, and fabrication of an inorganic membrane to separate hydrogen from petroleum refinery purge gases G. E. Roettger
Golden Technologies, Inc. Design, development, and fabrication of enhanced inorganic membranes in systems to remediate the problem of volatile organic compounds in water D. E. Fain
Golden Technologies, Inc. Inorganic membrane for hydrogen separation in olefin D. E. Fain
USCAR/INEL Intelligent welding of thin metal sections M. W. Richey
Service Optics Corp. Surface inspection machine (infrared) G. L. Powell
ConnectWare, Inc. Asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) adapter device driver for digital UNIX L. MacIntyre
Osram Sylvania, Inc. Gelcasting polycrystalline alumina M. A. Janney
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company Evaluation of air conditioner air refrigerant cross-flow heat exchangers with R22 and zeotropic refrigerant mixture V. C. Mei, F. C. Chen
American Society of Mechanical Engineers Non-heat-treatable aluminum alloy sheet products H. W. Hayden
Doble Engineering, Kahn Instruments Moisture sensor for sulfur hexafluoride–filled circuit breakers D. R. James, I. Sauers
Thermshield International, LTD. Test bed demonstration project–radiation control coatings T. W. Petrie
GelTech, Inc. Novel cost-effective process for the replication of hybrid diffractive/refractive optical elements B. E. Bernacki, L. C. Maxey
Serotech, Inc. Surface-enhanced Raman optical data storage (SERODS) system T. Vo-Dinh
Cincinnati Milacron Marketing Co. Expert system for machine tool coolant selection H. A. Fell
Applied CarboChemicals, Inc. Production of chemical derivatives from renewables B. H. Davison
SPRI/Roof Consultants Institute Whole building roof re-cover and drying demonstration project A. Desjarlais
Hyper Velocity, Inc. Position and velocity control of pneumatic cylinders for flexible assembly systems J. G. Parrott, T. L. Williams
Advanced Lithography Group HIP densification project E. A. Franco-Ferreira
Medtronic, Inc. Development of thin-film batteries for implantable medical devices J. B. Bates
Commercial Crystal Laboratories, Inc. New crystal-growth methods for producing lattice-matched substrates for high-temperature semiconductors L. A. Boatner
Midwest Superconductivity, Inc., Westinghouse Electric Corp. Advanced temperature superconductor film-based process using RABiTs’ substrates A. Goyal, R. Hawsey
PDMA Corp. In-service motor performance diagnostic S. L. Bunch
Advanced Optical Equipment and Systems Corp. Development of advanced photolytic iodine laser cutting and joining technologies for manufacturing M. W. Richey
GelTech, Diffraction International, University of Rochester Advanced micro-optics characterization using computer-generated holograms L. C. Maxey, J. E. Rogers
Apeiron, Inc. Advanced hardware and software methods for thread and gear-dimensional metrology A. C. Miller
GaSonics International Energetic neutral beam cleaning D. E. Schechter, C. C. Tsai
Materials and Electrochemical Research Corp. Hydrogen storage in organometallic fullerenes F. C. Chen
Clinical Neuro Systems, Inc., Ben Franklin Techology Center, Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Vascular occlusive device prototyping W. Morrison, P. A. Evans
Innovative Computing Technologies, Inc. Sensor-driven intelligent control system for plasma processing V. B. Campbell
ERC, Inc. Intelligent machine learning analysis for fuel cell operations F. C. Chen
Charles Evans & Assoc. Feasibility of correlating V-Cr-Ti alloy weld strength with weld chemistry M. L. Grossbeck
Utron, Inc. A 7-km/s electrothermal light gas gun pellet injector S. L. Milora
Lambda Technologies, Inc. Advanced ECR ion source with large resonant plasma volume G. D. Alton, F. W. Meyer
Visual Computing Systems Corp. Flywheel motor alternator for hybrid electric vehicles J. W. McKeever
Stereotaxis, Inc. Superconducting coil amplifier for magnetic stereotaxis neurosurgery J. Lai
Geltech, Inc. Cost-effective, high-precision fabrication technologies for radiation-resistant advanced optical components B. E. Bernacki
Frigidaire Company Accelerated development of efficient refrigerator technologies E. A. Vineyard
Micro-Grain, Inc. Microwave treatment as a pesticide alternative for stored products T. S. Bigelow
Dow Corning Corp. High-temperature particle filtration technology T. M. Besmann
Roofing Industry Committee Investigating the durability of roofing systems in the aftermath of a major wind storm A. Desjarlais
Tinsley Labs Deterministic fabrication of optical components using ion-beam milling D. O. Hobson
Union Camp Corp. Overcoming constraints to high-yield plantation-grown hardwoods in the southeastern United States G. A. Tuskan
DynEco International, Inc. Orbital vane compressor-expander development for vehicle fuel cells F. C. Chen, V. C. Mei
Detroit Diesel Corp. Motor-generator augmentation of diesel turbocharge R. Graves, D. Adams
Pall-Pass Reverse osmosis membrane (pharmaceutical) and cleanable HEPA filter panel project D. Fain
Angstrom Tools, LLC Computational toolbox for molecular nanotechnology B. G. Sumpter
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Conceptual development of an environmental data management system for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System compliance M. J. Sales
Red Zone Robotics Generalized operator interface for remote system control G. Armstrong
Solar Turbines, Inc. Evaluation of stainless steels for primary surface recuperator applications R. W. Swindeman
DCH Technologies, Inc. Development of low-cost hydrogen sensors and detectors B. S. Hoffheins
American Magnetics, Inc. Development, design, and fabrication of hybrid high-temperature superconducting leads D. M. Kroeger
Maytag Appliances Demonstration and evaluation of high-efficiency, horizontal-axis clothes washer J. J. Tomlinson
Perkin-Elmer Ion source and inlet system fundamentals and applications G. J. VanBerkel
SciBus Analytical, Inc. Commercialization of technologies developed in the Contaminant Analysis Automation (CAA) Program L. Klatt

Licenses Executed in 1996
Licensee Technology
Advanced Systems Technology Active and passive neutron examination and assay
Angeion Corporation Thin-film batteries
Applied CarboChemicals, Inc. Fermentation process to produce succinic acid from corn (see p. 102)
CyberTrax Innovative Technologies, Inc. Omnidirectional and holonomic rolling platform for wheelchair
DCH Technology, Inc. Thick-film hydrogen sensor
DeRoyal Industries, Inc. Concentration of pertechnetate solutions
Environmental Systems Corp. Lumscope/Lumscan/ScopeCTL software
GeoVox Security Corp. Enclosed Space Detection System (heartbeat detector)
Insight Inspection Technology Robotic vehicle
Lambda Technologies, Inc. Variable-frequency microwave technologies
LoTEC, Inc. Ceramic powders
Midwest Superconductivity, Inc. Structures having enhanced biaxial texture and method of fabricating same
Optical Biopsy, LLC DNF method for cancer diagnosis
Pioneer Surgical, Inc. DNF method for cancer diagnosis
Powell River Laboratories Environmentally safe projectile (lead-free bullets)
SciBus Analytical, Inc. PCR algorithm software
SenSiv, Inc. Monolithic spectrometer
Serotec Biological material transfer of monoclonal antibodies
Spire Corporation Polymer surface-hardening process
Supelco, Inc. Sol-gel sorbent trap for environmental sampling
Turtle Mountain Communications Miniature hybrid optical imaging lens
Turtle Mountain Communications RF beacon integrated circuit (mask works)
UCB Chemicals Corp. Ionization radiation curing of epoxy resin systems using cationic photoinit
United Defense, L.P. Nickel-aluminum (Ni3Al) alloys
Venture Alliance II, LLC Synchronous luminescence system

Turning Corn into Chemicals the Biological Way

In England, it’s the term for wheat; in Scotland and Ireland, it’s oats. But in America, corn is the grass called maize that was domesticated and cultivated by Native Americans long before Europeans reached the New World. Although Americans consume considerable amounts of fresh corn on the cob, canned and frozen corn, cornbread muffins, and popcorn, corn in the United States is used primarily as animal fodder and also for making ethanol fuel and high-fructose syrup for soda beverages.

Now, scientists from four DOE laboratories, including ORNL, and a private company propose another use for corn. They have developed a revolutionary process for turning corn into chemicals needed to make consumer products. In this process, a new microorganism efficiently ferments glucose sugar in corn to succinic acid, which is an essential ingredient in the manufacture of plastics, clothing, paints, inks, food additives, and automobile bumpers.

In 1996 ORNL and three other DOE labs signed a $7 million agreement with Applied CarboChemicals, a Pennsylvania specialty chemicals company, to manufacture chemical feedstocks from renewable farm crops like corn. The agreement involves use of the new process, which has been licensed to Applied CarboChemicals and which received an R&D 100 Award in 1997.

This bioprocessing method is significantly less expensive than conventional petroleum-based methods for producing succinic acid. In addition, it eliminates gypsum, an undesirable by-product that must be hauled to landfills. Also, the new process promises economic benefits by reducing reliance on imported oil or at least by freeing up petroleum as a source of chemicals so it can be used as fuel. For example, if chemical feedstocks normally produced from petroleum were instead generated using a single combined biological and chemical plant, the oil saved could be used to heat 80,000 single-family homes for a year. Finally, the new process could expand markets for corn and other renewable feedstocks and provide greater job security and perhaps job growth within agriculture and related industries.

The new process, developed by ORNL, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), generates, separates, and purifies succinic acid and uses it as an intermediate to produce 1,4-butanediol, tetrahydrofuran, N-methyl pyrrolidone and other chemical feedstocks used to make a wide assortment of products. Existing domestic markets for such chemicals total more than $1.3 billion.

ORNL was the technical project leader, and ORNL researchers Nhuan Nghiem and Brian Davison developed the fermentation process. This process uses a novel microorganism, developed by ANL, that converts corn-derived glucose to succinic acid at very high yields. ANL also determined a way to purify the succinic acid product. NREL analyzed the economics of the new process, and PNNL found ways to catalyze succinic acid to produce commodity chemicals, the final step in the conversion process.

This research is part of DOE’s Alternative Feedstocks program, which is intended to forge new links between the agricultural community and the chemicals industry through support of research and development that uses crops to produce chemical feedstocks. The research is funded by DOE’s Office of Industrial Technology, Alternative Feedstocks Program. Funding is also provided through the cooperative research and development agreement with Applied CarboChemicals.

Using bioreactor columns to ferment corn, ORNL researchers recently produced 50 liters of a succinic acid product in each fermentation and shipped the broth to ANL for purification. Later this year 500-liter fermentations will be performed. If this DOE technology is commercialized and used widely to process corn, the United States may harvest rich rewards.

1996 Patents Issued to ORNL Inventors
Inventor(s) Technology
T. Scott Biparticle fluidized-bed reactor
R. Tyndall Amoeba/bacteria consortia for degrading wastes and contaminants
R. McKee, F. Walker Improved process for depositing epitaxial alkaline earth oxide onto a substrate and structures prepared with the process
R. Lauf, C. Holcombe, N. Dykes Process for manufacturing multilayer capacitors and like articles
T. Scott, R. Petersen, B. Davison Continuous fluidized-bed contactor with recycle of sorbent
T. Vo-Dinh Articles of protective clothing adapted for detecting chemical permeation
J. Bates, N. Dudney Method of making an electrolyte for an electrochemical cell
T. Vo-Dinh Photoactivated luminescence sensor and method of detecting trichloroethylene and related volatile organochloride compounds
Devault, B. McConnell, B. Phillips Hermetically sealed superconducting magnet motor
R. Lauf Method for producing textured substrates for thin-film photovoltaic cells
M. Harris, O. Basaran, T. Kollie, K. Weaver Silica powders for powder-evacuated thermal insulating panel and method
G. Eres, J. Sharp Externally controlled closed-loop feedback apparatus for digital epitaxy
H. Haynes, J. Moyers, B. Stewart, D. Casada Method and system for measuring gate valve clearances and seating force
M. Santella, V. Sikka Intermetallic alloy welding wires and method for fabricating the same
T. Stovall, J. Tomlinson System for energy-load management for heating and cooling of buildings
T. Vo-Dinh, A. Viallet Chemical sensor probe for calcium and other metal ions
R. Tyndall, A. Vass Methods of degrading napalm and trinitrotoluene
J. Moyers, H. Haynes Method and apparatus for monitoring armature position in dc solenoids
L. Hively Smart, passive sun-facing surfaces
D. Lowndes, J. McCamey Method for continuous control of composition and doping of pulsed-laser deposited films
C. Scott, T. Scott, B. Faison, B. Davison, J. Woodward Enhanced attrition bioreactor for enzyme hydrolysis of cellulosic materials
O. Basaran, M. Harris, W. Sisson, T. Scott Improved nozzle for electric dispersion reactor
J. Bates, N. Dudney, K. Weatherspoon Packaging material for thin-film lithium batteries
S. Smith, K. Castleberry Motor current method for monitoring machine tool performance
D. Casada Motor monitoring method and apparatus using high-frequency current components
H. Haynes Monitoring method and apparatus using high-frequency carrier and method of forming electrical pathways in indium-tin-oxide coatings
G. Alton Microwave electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) ion source with a large, uniformly distributed, axially symmetric, ECR plasma volume
A. Akerman, C. Ayers, H. Haynes Ultrasonic speech translator and communication system
S. Rajic, J. Muhs Smart material fiber-optic connecting method
J. Bates Rechargeable lithium battery for uses requiring a low-to-high power output
L. Dickens, H. Haynes, C. Ayers Method and apparatus for monitoring rotating aircraft components
P. Box A robotic vehicle
E. Wachter, W. Fisher (ORAU) Method and apparatus for evaluating structural weakness in polymer matrix composites
K. Alexander, T. Tiegs, P. Becher, S. Waters Alumina-based ceramic composite
R. Lauf, D. Bible, et al. Apparatus and method for processing of materials
P. Maziasz, G. Goodwin, C. Liu High-temperature corrosion-resistant iron-aluminide alloys exhibiting improved weldability
T. Vo-Dinh et al. Laser-induced differential normalized fluorescence method for cancer diagnosis
D. Casada Method and apparatus for monitoring motor-operated valve motor output torque and power at valve seating
C. Britton A method of pedestal and common-mode noise correction for switched-capacitor storage arrays
H. Haynes, C. Ayers, D. Casada Instrument for analysis of electric motors based on slip-poles component
R. Taleyarkhan Method to prevent or mitigate steam explosions in casting pits

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