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Technology Transfer

Technology identifies anomalies in complex financial data

Identifying atypical information in financial data early could help determine problematic financial trends such as the systemic risk that recently put the U.S. and global financial systems in a downward fall. Recognizing such anomalous information can also help regulators understand markets, and identify the potential need of new rules and regulations. Additionally, it can help investors and advisors better manage their investment and savings portfolios.

The AnomalatorTM software, developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, uses advanced mathematical algorithms to identify unusual trends in complex financial data and graphically show how it compares with larger datasets. Licensed to Spokane-based V-INDICATOR ANALYTICS, LLC, the Anomalator software tracks performance, monitors risk, and detects potential scams.

V-INDICATOR's President learned that PNNL researchers had a long history of visually analyzing data for homeland security applications. In 2008 he utilized the Laboratory's Economic Development Office's Technology Assistance Program (TAP) to investigate whether any of the Laboratory's available technologies would suitably augment and better track anomalies in investment banking, and visualize them in a user-friendly manner. While the TAP work revealed that none of the existing software packages would readily address his needs, technology maturation funds were provided by PNNL operator, Battelle, to fund development of a new software solution.

The resulting Anomalator software is considered a best-of-breed anomaly detection tool for complex financial data that qualifies what is happening in the finance world. Licensed to V-INDICATOR specifically for the financial industry, the Anomalator also has the capability to provide trends and overviews for many areas including health care and credit card fraud.

V-INDICATOR is currently working with financial industry leaders and regulators to apply Anomalator software to critical problems addressed by the Dodd-Frank legislation and its regulations. Applications span systemic risk to funds, derivatives, stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments-and uses including regulatory, wealth management, fiduciary, forensic, advisory, and asset management and monitoring.

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Technology Transfer

Biodegradable polymer delivers more effective, safer therapeutic radiation

As part of a broader mission to develop better alternative treatments for diseases such as cancer, Battelle researchers at PNNL and the University of Utah co-developed a way to use a commercially available radioactive isotope, Yttrium-90, to deliver radiation by surgically implanting seeds holding the isotope into tumors. Yttrium-90 has characteristics that make it a good radiation source for killing cancer cells-namely, a shorter physical half-life and effective confinement of radioactivity to the placement site-but it cannot be delivered in metal brachytherapy seeds as some other medical isotopes are.

To overcome this, researchers developed a fast-dissolving, or resorbable, polymer seed to be used in place of metal as a delivery device for the therapeutic radioisotope. The result is a potential cancer treatment-called the resorbable brachytherapy seed-that can be less expensive, can deliver more effective radiation, is less hazardous to hospital workers, and is biocompatible with-and bioabsorbed (naturally removed) from-the body.

Advanced Medical Isotope Corp (AMIC) of Kennewick, Washington, showed an interest in further developing the technology for potential commercialization, sparking further research collaboration with Battelle and co-developers at the University of Utah. This working relationship led to industry funded research and development work at PNNL and at University of Utah to mature the resorbable brachytherapy seed technology that AMIC then exclusively licensed in late 2010.

The company is now working toward commercialization, with plans to perform further research and development of the new brachytherapy seeds, which resemble conventional metal brachytherapy seeds and may be placed by direct injection using standard tools. AMIC anticipates the use of these seeds for treatment of prostate cancer, as well as for many of the more radiation-resistant cancers including brain tumors, head and neck tumors, and liver cancer.

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Technology Transfer

Biomass gasification licensed for international markets

Under appropriate conditions, algae can grow extremely fast while absorbing carbon dioxide via photosynthesis. Another benefit is that algae production can use land and water not suitable for food crops, and the methane produced as a fuel to generate renewable electricity can use the existing natural gas infrastructure as a fuel to generate renewable electricity - a desirable outcome for gasification companies, utilities, and the electricity-consuming public.

Genifuel Corp, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, develops equipment to make renewable methane from wet organic material. Suspecting that large quantities of wet biomass could be efficiently gasified to methane, the company sought out a catalytic wet gasification process developed by PNNL researchers. In 2008 Genifuel applied for a Technology Assistance Program (TAP) project to work with the PNNL research team, utilize Laboratory equipment to test various water plants including algae, and compare the results to terrestrial biomass through a process known as Catalytic Hydrothermal Gasification (CHG). CHG uses a wet process catalyzed to yield rapid and almost complete conversion of the biomass, producing a clean renewable fuel as the end product. This process operates at much lower temperatures than other gasification methods, making the construction and operation of the equipment easier and less costly.

The CHG technology was licensed domestically by Genifuel in 2009 for a specific list of feedstocks; in 2011, Genifuel contracted to extend the license to all international countries covered by the patents. The international license allows the company to pursue the same opportunities overseas that it previously only had license coverage for in the U.S. 

Today, Genifuel is pursuing the international market due to an increasing number of inquiries from outside the United States-mostly from Europe and Asia-aimed at biofuel technology. Since receiving the international license, a number of promising leads for designing machines of various sizes to process a wide range of feedstocks have been generated in Europe.

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Technology Transfer

Millimeter wave technology helps shoppers find better fitting clothes

Originally designed to protect air travelers, the 3-D holographic technology employed in body-scanning kiosks uses harmless millimeter waves that penetrate clothing and reflect off of the body, sending signals back to a transceiver. The transceiver sends the signals to a high-speed computer, which then reconstructs them to create a visualization tool for security applications, or compiles detailed body measurements for clothing fitting and health/wellness applications.

Me-AlityTM has exclusively licensed the technology to help clothing shoppers find better fitting clothes easily and quickly, as well as assess their overall fitness. The company plans to revolutionize the apparel industry by introducing scanning kiosks near retail locations that will provide-at no cost-the best fitting and most flattering styles for a shopper's unique body measurements from many of the largest brand name apparel lines.

The PNNL-developed technology was previously licensed, and is currently being deployed by the Transportation Security Administration for airport security across the U.S. to identify hidden objects-including plastic, ceramic and other non-metallic weapons.

The scanning systems can also be used to quickly and accurately collect useful and relevant body measurement data during the scanning process, which can be used for a variety of purposes, including clothing fitting, but also eventually for helping individuals track their fitness and wellness goals. An earlier application of the technology in the apparel industry won the prestigious R&D Magazine's Editor's Choice Award as "Most Promising New Technology" in 2004.

Me-Ality installed its first kiosk at Pennsylvania's King of Prussia Mall in early 2011. In July, the company announced that it had received a $30 million investment to implement its business plan. An aggressive rollout includes plans to install over 400 body scanning kiosks in large shopping centers and other high-traffic venues within the next two and a half years.

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Technology Transfer

Global mass spectrometer company reaps the benefits of long-term partnership

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The relationship between PNNL and Agilent Technologies dates back to the Agilent's inception in 1999 as a spin-out of Hewlett-Packard. Since then, the collaboration has been a critical and ongoing part of new product development for Agilent, a company that develops cutting edge analytical instrumentation and methodologies for engineers, scientists, and researchers around the globe to meet communications, electronics, life sciences, and chemical analysis challenges.

Through several collaborative research projects over the years, Agilent and PNNL have shared a common focus on advancing the state of the art in the measurement industry in terms of not only instrumentation, but also methodologies and software. One important goal for Agilent as an industry leader was to find new ways to address the most important aspect of mass spectrometry-the ability to achieve trace-level analysis. To do so requires the utmost in instrument sensitivity.

Agilent had found what they were looking for in PNNL's award-winning ion funnel technology, which vastly improves ion transmission in mass spectrometry, thus improving detection and measurement capabilities. The company has been able to achieve factors-of-10 greater sensitivity with this technology. And in 2010, Agilent introduced a new mass spectrometer incorporating dual ion funnel technology- the 6490 Triple Quadrupole LC/MS. This new device achieves unprecedented sensitivity in part by including dual ion funnel technology, designed to dramatically increase the number of ions that enter a mass spectrometer.

Today, Agilent continues to collaborate with researchers at PNNL and expand the scope of their research and development to solve emerging challenges posed by the scientific community.

Awards

  • 2004 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer
  • 1999 R&D 100 Award

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Technology Transfer

Device breathes life into study of cell interactions

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IncubATRTM-the Live-Cell Monitor was developed as a tool to study cells in near-real time by utilizing and improving on existing attenuated total reflection (ATR)-Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) technology. It functions as a specialized containment device, creating an environment that is conducive to live-cell growth, propagation, and longevity. When a FTIR spectroscope is attached to this device, cell response to physical, chemical, or biological stimuli can be monitored and recorded in real time.

Before the IncubATR, researchers often had to rely on results from studies performed on cells that were fixed, dead, or had limited longevity. The ability to study living cells in near real-time is ideal for a broad range  of applications, from pharmaceutical testing, to biomolecular studies, to environmental impact studies involving biological exposures, and includes many other potential uses in between.

Research and development that resulted in the IncubATR was done by researchers at PNNL, initially only existing as a conceptual invention report. The team identified Wisconsin-based Simplex Scientific, LLC as the right fit to produce a prototype of PNNL's design. Through partnership between PNNL and Simplex, and funding provided by PNNL operator Battelle, the concept was developed, tested, submitted for patent, exclusively licensed to Simplex, and converted into a commercial product in less than two years.

Today, Simplex continues to work with researchers and commercialization staff at PNNL to evaluate the many applications and extensions for the IncubATR device. As it is, the technology will speed up scientific discovery, reduce costs, and curtail the need for live animal testing in some cases.

Awards

  • 2011 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer
  • 2010 R&D 100 Award

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Technology Transfer

Laser power source turns down the volume, allows more accurate chemical detection

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Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs) are high-performance semiconductor lasers for chemical sensing that serve a wide range of applications including biomedical, imaging, spectroscopy, remote sensing, military, aerospace, communications, and material processing. Montana-based Wavelength Electronics, Inc. had identified a new market opportunity for QCLs that incorporate low-noise drivers. When used in the laser-based gas sensors, a low-noise power source would enable scientists to more accurately detect smaller levels of trace gases than would otherwise be possible.

Wavelength is a manufacturer of high-performance power supplies for laser diodes used by high-tech original equipment manufacturers and researchers. Known for delivering instrument-level performance in small, cost-effective modules, the company was convinced by an important customer that it should adopt and license a PNNL-developed technology.

Through the Laboratory's Technology Assistance Program, researchers performed measurement of spectral current noise density from three of Wavelength's current controllers, as well as two developed at PNNL. The project resulted in several findings, clearing the path forward for Wavelength Electronics to leverage the PNNL-developed technology into a commercially viable controller.

Wavelength and PNNL worked together to test the newly developed current controller units on laser-based sensor equipment made by Wavelength customer Aerodyne Research Incorporated. The improved performance was found to significantly reduce the noise levels and increase the sensitivity of Aerodyne's sensors.

The results of this collaboration quickly prompted Wavelength to license the technology, which paid off with an immediate sale to Aerodyne.

Awards

  • 2011 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

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Technology Transfer

Renewable process makes big impact with global agricultural processor

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More than two billion pounds of petroleum are consumed each year to meet the current demand for propylene glycol (PG), used to manufacture chemicals needed to produce a broad range of common industrial and consumer products including paint, printer ink cartridges, and cosmetics, among numerous others. Now a new process developed by researchers at PNNL offers a commercially proven, cost-effective way to make PG from renewable sources.

Development of the Propylene Glycol from Renewable Sources (PGRS) process began nearly a decade ago with a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between PNNL and a national agricultural association. What resulted was a new set of catalysts and the discovery that glycerol could be converted to PG, meaning what was once made only from petroleum could be made entirely using a renewable feedstock.

One of the PNNL researchers introduced Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) to the collaboration, which led to a new CRADA for additional work between PNNL and ADM to optimize the catalyst for potential commercial application. In 2006, ADM licensed the process and initiated plans for a pilot plant. After successfully constructing and operating a pilot plant in 2009, ADM completed construction of a full-scale production facility for the sole purpose of commercially producing PGRS. The new multi-million dollar facility, which began operations in early 2011, is expected to achieve up to 200 million pounds annual production capacity.

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Technology Transfer

Licensed to kill—metal contaminants

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Researchers at PNNL had already developed the award-winning Self-Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports (SAMMS) technology — a revolutionary material that can economically remove dangerous metals such as mercury from the environment, to levels below 1.3 parts per trillion—before meeting Steward Advanced Materials. A leading manufacturer of alloys, magnetic materials, and industrial components for addressing environmental and industrial problems, Steward was looking for a new coating to use with their magnetic materials when they found that PNNL might have their solution.

Through the Laboratory's Technology Assistance Program (TAP), engineers from Steward visited PNNL to learn more about the SAMMS technology. What they found was that SAMMS was not only an excellent mercury adsorbent—they were able to get mercury levels down to lower than 5 parts per trillion—but it also could be used on other heavy metals and in harsh environments such as sulfuric acid. Through their trial of the technology, Steward determined that SAMMS was indeed ideally suited to clean heavy metals out of waste streams, a requirement in many industries.

Following the TAP project, with a license in hand, Steward initiated production and began marketing its products based on the SAMMS technology. A number of successful tests followed at U.S. mining sites and with commercial engineering firms looking for adsorbents for a variety of clean-up applications.

Today, Steward continues to test SAMMS on a variety of applications, including in the pharmaceutical industry for capturing high-value catalysts for recycling.

Awards

  • 2006 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer
  • 1998 R&D 100 Award

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Technology Transfer

New ‘expert’ keeps tabs on energy use in buildings

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Energy Expert is the commercial name given to a newly-adapted version of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's (PNNL’s) Whole-Building Energy (WBE) Diagnostician tool, which monitors energy use in buildings and/or by major building systems. Using trend data to automatically detect and provide alerts for anomalies in energy consumption, as well as supporting information on impacts, the technology automatically creates a model of energy use as data are accumulated. The model is then used to predict future energy use and alerts building operations staff to variances between actual and expected consumption measurements.

In 2004, NorthWrite, Inc., an energy software company, visited PNNL to learn more about the software. Shortly after the visit, a partnership between the organizations was formed, and the team enhanced the tool to increase its flexibility and usability by converting it to a Web-based application called the Energy Expert.

PNNL and NorthWrite entered into a non-exclusive license that returns a use fee to the Laboratory based on sales of Energy Expert, which uses the WBE base technology. Following the license agreement, through Technology Assistance Program projects, which provide up to one week’s worth of a PNNL researcher’s time in a fiscal year, the Energy Expert product was further enhanced. It is now the centerpiece in NorthWrite’s energy business development efforts and is available for commercial use through NorthWrite’s suite of Web-based facility management software tools called WorkSiteTM.

This ability to continuously monitor energy usage means expensive fluctuations in energy performance can be addressed sooner, resulting in greater energy efficiency and lower energy costs. Other industries have observed the potential of the Energy Expert through NorthWrite’s marketing efforts, and have entered into discussions with PNNL and NorthWrite to adapt the technology for monitoring climate control in grocery stores, as one example.

Awards

  • 2008 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (shared with NorthWrite)

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Technology Transfer

Unique partnership brings new cancer treatment to life

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In 1998, a company co-founded by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) retiree Lane Bray, an internationally recognized expert in medical isotopes, came to PNNL for technical assistance. The company, IsoRay Medical, Inc., now produces Cesium-131 radiochemical brachytherapy "seeds" used in facilities across the country to treat prostate and other cancers. The Cesium-131 seed offers a significantly shorter half-life than the two other isotopes commonly used for brachytherapy, allowing faster delivery of therapeutic radiation to the prostate gland, reduced incidence of common brachytherapy side effects, and lower probability of cancer cell survival.

"IsoRay literally started in Lane Bray's basement, with about three employees," said Larry Greenwood, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) technical lead for the IsoRay project. In 1998, Bray, a PNNL retiree and internationally recognized expert in medical isotopes and Don Segna, a retired engineer, formerly with the U.S. Department of Energy, met with Greenwood to discuss technical issues related to the fledgling company.

This meeting led IsoRay to PNNL's Economic Development Office and access to PNNL expertise in the form of a Technical Assistance Program (TAP) project. Five additional TAP projects and seven years later, IsoRay was producing and marketing its Cs-131 seeds, which are now being used in 36 medical centers and clinics across the nation.

As a small start-up company, IsoRay did not have the physical or financial resources to conduct extensive testing in a radioactive environment. The company began by performing non-radioactive testing in a technology incubator facility before conducting the radioactive work at PNNL. In addition to providing a radiological lab and expertise, PNNL offered its regulatory experience. "We got our feet wet at PNNL, learned what kind of equipment we needed and how the regulatory process worked," said Bray, now chief scientist at IsoRay.

IsoRay developed all of the intellectual property and holds all of the patents for the separation and purification of Cs-131. They recently built their own radiological laboratory in Richland, Wash., where they are now producing the seeds.

Awards

  • 2006 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

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Technology Transfer

Stars align to reveal cure for information overload

Modern technology has created the opportunity to rapidly access information on a myriad of subjects, often resulting in the generation of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pieces of data. However, in many instances, the abundance and variety of information can be overwhelming for decision-makers. The Starlight Information Visualization System, an advanced three-dimensional visualization technology, helps solve the problem of information overload.

Starlight was originally developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with Battelle and industry partners, for the U.S. intelligence community. It is currently licensed to start-up Future Point Systems, founded in 2006 in partnership with PNNL to build upon and commercialize the Starlight technology. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, CA, with offices in Richland, WA and Washington DC.

Unlike any other information analysis tool, Starlight is designed to capture and graphically depict complex relationships in data from multiple information sources. By making such relationships simultaneously visible, Starlight enables exciting, rapid, and powerful new forms of concurrent information exploitation. The result is an unprecedented approach to information management and sense-making.

Awards

  • 2003 R&D 100 Award
  • 2006 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

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Technology Transfer

Collaboration yields big step forward for titanium production

The Titanium Metal Injection Molding (Ti MIM) technology—a quantum leap forward in titanium metallurgy—overcomes barriers of impurity intrusion to enable cost-effective production of small, precise titanium parts that is finally on par with steel and stainless steel manufacturing. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) initially funded the development of Ti MIM through an internal investment program.

In 2006, Praxair, Inc. and PNNL joined forces, each bringing a missing piece to the titanium manufacturing puzzle. Praxair, a global, Fortune 300 supplier of atmospheric, process, and specialty gases, was interested in opening new markets for its gases. The company brought its knowledge of industry, contacts in the manufacturing world, and financial support to the licensing agreement. At the same time, PNNL, with more than $100,000 of internal funds invested, brought its titanium metal injection molding process. Paired together, the organizations innovated and succeeded.

Following an additional internal investment to examine the use of titanium hydride powder in the Ti MIM process, PNNL pursued further research into the potential for expanding applications into larger scale manufacturing. The Laboratory is currently leveraging the Ti MIM technology to develop prototype aircraft components for a U.S. aerospace manufacturer.

Awards

  • 2006 R&D 100 Award

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Technology Transfer

PNNL scientists make quick work of homeland security solution

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL’s) Integrated Cargo Container Control System (IC3) is a software system and Web-based application that integrates data from multiple cargo inspection technologies and provides timely remote access to inspections and information.

The PNNL team conceptualized, developed and transferred the technology to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the country of Pakistan in a matter of months. During the latter part of 2006, PNNL identified the challenges and solutions for creating an integrated system and built a demonstration tool, adapting the technology to the needs of DHS and Pakistan.

Within three months of conceptualization, PNNL and DHS entered into an agreement that allowed PNNL staff to train Pakistani customs officers on the technology using the initial version of the IC3 system. The full system was launched in Washington D.C. and Pakistan in early 2007, only six months after the effort began.

The benefits derived from implementation of the IC3 technology are widespread. Shipments bound for the U.S. from foreign ports are under tighter control, reducing the risk that potentially dangerous cargo will be allowed access into our country. Areas identified for additional research include improvements in information proximity, which would facilitate better integration of data and images on a single screen, and a feasibility study for adding audio recordings, which could prove critical for emergency response applications.

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Technology Transfer

Thick films show promise in hydrogen sensors

Apollo, Inc is a general contracting firm specializing in infrastructure and industrial projects such as water treatment, wastewater treatment, bridges, laboratories, wineries, manufacturing facilities, commercial buildings, and environmental remediation. Apollo needed help developing hydrogen sensors to identify leaks and gas concentration for its digital control systems, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) was in search of a U.S. business partner to commercialize such a technology.

The two partnered to develop and commercialize the technology using an Initiative for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA). An IPP is a mechanism for engaging weapons scientists, engineers, and technicians from the former Soviet Union and other regions of proliferation concern, and redirect their expertise to peaceful work through partnerships with U.S. commercial enterprises.

In collaboration with the Karpov Institute in Moscow, Russia, the research yielded two applications that appeared promising as potential solutions to the technology need. Eventually, the metal oxide thick films application was chosen to move forward, and a new approach to the sensor technology was created by scientists at the Karpov Institute, which retains invention ownership rights within the former Soviet bloc countries.

In 2006, Battelle exclusively licensed patent applications based on inventions made under the CRADA to Apollo, Inc. of Kennewick, Wash. and gained ownership under the IPP. Apollo then developed a prototype sensor, which was met with positive feedback, and significantly scaled up development of the thick film. The company can now process up to 50 batches per unit, and plans to add gas sensing equipment to its product line.

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Technology Transfer

Enhanced imaging technology sends great signals

The Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Spectroscopy (CARS) technology represents a new, three-dimensional, general purpose imaging technology that does not use intrinsic or extrinsic fluorescent labels, but is instead based on molecular vibrations, making it theoretically applicable as an analytical tool for identifying chemical or biological samples.

Although the CARS process is not new, recent developments and resulting commercial licensing have enabled the CARS process to become more practical for implementation in biological and other research. The high degree of spatial resolution at high levels of sensitivity represents a significant advance in imaging and mapping fundamental molecular processes.

To date, several non-exclusive licenses have been executed with industry clients, beginning in 2004 with Olympus, a camera giant and world leader in research and clinical microscopes and diagnostic testing. Royalties derived from the license were then used to fund the development of a new laser prototype for which a patent is pending. In 2006, PNNL executed a non-exclusive license with Leica, a leading global designer and producer of high-tech precision optics systems. Carl Zeiss licensed the technology in 2007.

PNNL’s improvements in CARS technology was an early outcome of work with staff and equipment at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, a scientific user facility located on PNNL’s campus. Extensive development work on the CARS technology continues at Princeton University under the leadership of former PNNL staff member Dr. Sunney Xie.

More information about this technology

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Technology Transfer

PNNL software helps airlines be proactive about flight safety

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory raised the bar on proactive airline safety when they developed a software technology called The Morning Report. The breakthrough technology provides commercial airlines, the federal government, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration the ability to gain insight into potentially unsafe flight practices and conditions.

The Morning Report technology was developed by PNNL in collaboration with Battelle, NASA-Ames, ProWorks, Flight Safety Consultants and Safe Flight. It is licensed to Sagem Avionics Inc., a Texas-based provider of technical support, MRO services, and marketing and sales of commercial aerospace products.

The technology uses sophisticated multivariate statistical algorithms to analyze massive amounts of flight data from on-board instrumentation on thousands of aircraft, distinguishing between common patterns and atypical events. A report of the findings is available for review each morning, allowing safety inspectors to quickly identify anomalies, share pertinent information with other decision makers, and possibly, prevent accidents.

The algorithms developed by the researchers at PNNL are so effective at identifying typical patterns, atypical events, and pre-cursors to significant events that they are now being adapted for other applications such as monitoring the electric power grid, with the expectation that they may help avoid electrical blackouts and other significant events in the future.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2005 R&D 100 Award
  • 2005 R&D Magazine Editor’s Choice for Product with the Greatest Impact on Safety
  • 2007 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

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Technology Transfer

Two PNNL technologies provide springboard for mass spectrometry

Two innovative mass spectrometry technologies developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)—the Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometry (ICP/MS) Collision/Reaction Cell (CRC) technology and the Electrodynamic Ion Funnel—have advanced the analysis capabilities of mass spectrometer instruments worldwide. Both technologies have been licensed to a number of companies that manufacture mass spectrometers.

The CRC technology was first licensed to ThermoElectron Corporation in 2002. Today, it is estimated that 80 percent of all new ICP/MS instruments sold incorporate some form of PNNL’s CRC technology, which removes interferences, enabling the mass spectrometer to better detect and measure environmentally significant metals compared with conventional technology.

The Electrodynamic Ion Funnel technology, which greatly improves the sensitivity of analytical devices such as mass spectrometers, is licensed to several companies including Bruker Daltonics. The company introduced the first commercial mass spectrometer products incorporating the technology in 2005. "Only a small fraction of the ions that are created for analysis are ever transmitted through the mass spectrometer and ultimately detected. This limits sensitivity and is a major problem. The Ion Funnel helps address this problem," said the device's inventor, Richard Smith, a laboratory fellow at PNNL.

Advanced versions of the Ion Funnel are being used in research funded by both the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health at Pacific Northwest. The technology is particularly suited for use in conjunction with ion mobility spectrometry/mass spectrometry (IMS/MS). Potential applications involve new ways to diagnose diseases, and research applications focused on the immune system, cellular signaling processes related to diseases such as cancer, and environmental effects on health.

More information about the Ion Funnel technology

Awards

  • 1999 R&D 100 Award (Electrodynamic Ion Funnel)
  • 2004 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer (Both)

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Technology Transfer

Food processor recovers product losses with PNNL invention

With the French fry reigning as one of the world’s most popular foods, food processors are mass-producing them with the latest in processing technology. Cutting mechanisms, while excellent for reducing operating costs and improving end-product consistency, also represent an enormous opportunity for waste when a single blade is damaged. In one hour, a broken blade can reduce 80,000 pounds of prime potatoes into truckloads of defective strips the manufacturer often must pay to have removed for animal feed. The remaining potato sludge adds to the plant’s waste processing burden.

International potato processing leader Lamb Weston turned to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for a method to detect and quickly repair a broken knife without halting production. Teaming with plant engineers from Lamb Weston, PNNL scientists applied existing research to develop a new Multi-blade Knife Failure Detector (KFD). Now operating in eight Lamb-Weston plants worldwide, the KFD takes less than one second to identify a blade break, trigger an alarm, and signal blade replacement. On one line at one plant, the new system has reduced annual cutting losses by more than six million pounds.

The severe environments of food processing and industrial manufacturing plants often restrict the use of advanced detection technologies. Food processing plants are wet and noisy with numerous sources of equipment vibration and electrical interferences. PNNL’s application of science into the KFD technology overcame these obstacles by bringing real-time equipment and process monitoring to industry—without crippling amounts of capital investment since much of the fundamental research had already been done.

Awards

  • 2000 R&D 100 Award
  • 2000 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

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Technology Transfer

PNNL sheds light on need for more efficient bulbs

Reflector Compact Fluorescent Lamps (R-CFLs) were initially developed as an alternative for incandescent reflector lamps commonly found in popular recessed can lighting fixtures. During the course of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL’s) lighting work, researchers discovered the number and types of existing R-CFLs was limited, and that the R-CFLs experienced high failure rates when used in existing residential recessed downlight fixtures. Additionally, they didn’t deliver enough light, were not ENERGY STAR® compliant, and were more expensive.

PNNL’s Emerging Technology Program initiated the R-CFL Technology Procurement – Phase 1 to spur the introduction of improved, energy efficient, R-CFL products into the marketplace. By identifying improvements and developing new specifications for advanced, high-performance R-CFLs, PNNL provided lighting manufacturers and buyers with minimum specifications for energy-efficient R-CFL models that operate reliably while also delivering the desired light levels, and that fit into existing light fixtures.

The Technology Procurement project was so successful in aiding technology transfer that it became self-sustaining, and the R-CFL testing specifications developed by PNNL were adopted by DOE in the latest draft of the revised ENERGY STAR specification for the reflector lamp category of CFLs.

Sixteen new R-CFL models are now available for purchase in the marketplace, including from major retailers such as Costco, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. PNNL continues to serve as a distribution point of contact for these 16 models.

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