Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Fred Strohl (strohlhf@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL licenses hazardous waste degradation technology to company

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 22, 1998 — A biological technology that uses bacteria to degrade hazardous waste and chemical agents has been developed by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and licensed to an Oak Ridge environmental cleanup company.

American Technologies, Inc. has been granted exclusive rights of this technology for remediation of explosives, propellants, napalm, unexploded ordnance and mercury.

The process enables the hazardous chemicals trichlorethylene and trinitrotoluene to be degraded into non-hazardous materials through a special bacteria. Enzymes produced by the bacteria degrade the chemicals. The bacteria produce natural material which disperses the contaminants in order for them to be chemically contacted and destroyed. This process can be applied to the degradation of napalm and other materials. Napalm is a chemical agent used in wartime as an incendiary bomb to burn forest cover and enemy hideouts.

The technology was developed by Dr. Arpad Vass of ORNL's Life Sciences Division.

Huu Dinh, president of American Technologies, said Oak Ridge-based technology can help companies meet and exceed their expectations.

"We found it very easy to license this technology from ORNL," Dinh said. "I think many companies overestimate the difficulty of that process."

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp.