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  • Browse our Available Technologies for licensing opportunities. We may already have what you're looking for, or we may be working on it now.
  • Find out how we approach Technology Transfer at PNNL and how you can participate.
  • Learn more about doing Collaborative Research with us to address your technical challenges.
  • Explore our Economic Development activities to see how we can help your business.
  • Read Client Success Stories to learn how companies are collaborating with PNNL to grow and prosper.

Technology Assistance

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 Assistance

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 Assistance

Technical advancements lead to SBIR Phase II grant

Abrasive-waterjet technology uses high-pressure water to create an extremely concentrated force to cut hard materials such as stainless steel, titanium, glass, and granite. When OMAX Corp. was established in 1993, it was the company's objective to harness state-of-the-art technologies to make high-pressure abrasivejet machining practical, affordable, and easy to use.

OMAX's successful relationship with PNNL began in 2007 when they applied and were approved for a Technology Assistance Program (TAP) project. The company has since completed several TAP projects with the most recent focusing on its abrasive-waterjet system. This TAP project resulted in PNNL recommending and demonstrating improved test methods for evaluating very-near-surface hardness related to cutting methods, which provided tools demonstrating the advantages of micro abrasive-waterjet technology in comparison to laser and electrical discharge machining operations. The improvements paved the way for the application and subsequent win of a $450K National Science Foundation SBIR Phase II grant.

Phase II funding is being used to further advance OMAX's waterjet technology for developing abrasive waterjet nozzles as a versatile and cost-effective tool. OMAX will collaborate with PNNL to demonstrate the capability and merits of abrasive-waterjet micro-meso machining, including development of micro abrasive-waterjet (mAWJ) technology for automated machining features between 50 - 100 micrometers that also addresses nozzle clogging-a technical challenge that can frequently occur at this size.

Thus far, the PNNL TAP projects with OMAX have also resulted in publication of three peer-reviewed conference/journal papers which the company believes will help raise awareness of waterjet technology as a versatile and cost-effective tool for a broad range of machining applications such as fatigue-critical parts for aerospace and medical implants. Subsequent use of the publications' contents in a book entitled "Micromachining" may also contribute to increased market share for OMAX products, an impact the company would anticipate seeing within two to five years.

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Technology Assistance

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 Assistance

Converting the sun’s heat into electricity

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In any given hour, more energy from the sun reaches earth than is used by the entire human population in a given year. The ability to turn that energy into electricity creates a plethora of opportunity for reducing non-renewable energy usage. Infinia, a company headquartered in Kennewick, Washington, has discovered an innovative way to do so with technology built around the Stirling piston engine. By using a parabolic dish to concentrate the solar energy, the engine will run for basically as long as heat is kept on it, enabling it to convert that energy into grid-quality AC power.

Development efforts were launched in 2006 for Infinia's PowerDish concept. In order to expand upon the idea, Infinia knew they had to demonstrate that the concept could work. So they coupled one of their trade show units with a dish to create a crude prototype that got the point across-it converted sunlight into electricity, with twice the efficiency of photovoltaics. Then they started working with the technical experts at PNNL to further the concept.

Through PNNL's Technology Assistance Program, researchers performed specific precision welding and provided technical guidance to Infinia throughout the prototype development period. During that time, Infinia secured venture support to continue developing their solar-powered Stirling engines, which can be deployed in small wattage arrays up to powerful megawatt installations. The result is a clean technology that is unmatched in concept and performance.

In 2008, Infinia began volume production of the Infinia Solar System. Today, the company has several demonstration projects in the U.S. and overseas.

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Technology Assistance

New clean technology to generate renewable energy

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For more than 4,000 years, people have tried to make useful power from fast water currents. But traditional water wheels and hydro power systems are expensive and difficult to construct. Then along came the Flip Wing turbine from Seattle, Washington-based Hydrovolts, Inc. The new turbine operates beneath the surface, like an underwater paddle wheel, and is about the size and cost of a small car. Although its structure is much smaller, it generates the same amount of power as conventional water wheels.

Hydrovolts was founded after Puget Sound Tidal Power LLC (now Hydrovolts) was hired to conduct an advanced study of tidal power feasibility in Puget Sound. Although renewable, tidal energy has cyclical peaks and valleys that prevent consistent generation of the best power, which prevents it from being a reliable energy resource. Committed to building sustainable communities, Hydrovolts reached out to PNNL for advice on developing new portable hydro-powered turbines that generate distributed power from local water currents.

Through the Laboratory's Technology Assistance Program, PNNL researchers provided engineering expertise and environmental analysis that encouraged Hydrovolts to focus their product development toward artificial water current applications-such as irrigation canals, waste water plants, and mining sites-with predictable water flows and other operational advantages rather than natural, tidal sources. Based on this guidance, the company designed a hydrokinetic turbine that produces clean, renewable power using predictable and controlled water currents. Today, Hydrovolts is focused on installing its turbines in canals throughout the U.S. and overseas.

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Technology Assistance

Increasing the safety of platelet transfusions

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Platelet therapy is used to reduce the risk of bleeding in high risk patients such as those receiving chemotherapy, patients who have suffered severe trauma from incidents like car accidents, and soldiers wounded in battle. Platelet pH is commonly used as a marker for their quality, viability and effectiveness, and is known to decline in a bag of platelets due to the normal process of metabolizing nutrients in the bag. However, a new pH monitoring device created by Blood Cell Storage, Inc. (BSCI) in Seattle, Washington, promises to greatly improve the quality control of platelet concentrates.

Called the pH1000TM, the device is the world's first non-invasive, closed-loop pH monitoring system for platelets-which avoids the waste of platelets caused by opening bags for testing. BCSI's optical sensing technology is incorporated directly into storage bags, so measurements can be taken multiple times with no sampling required. The sensor generates an easily readable fluorescent signal that corresponds to pH levels indicating platelet concentrate quality.

BCSI turned to researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for guidance regarding the design and manufacturing of the sensor system, as well as advice and testing for the device itself. Through a PNNL Technology Assistance Program project, the researchers provided information that allowed BCSI to significantly improve the device's accuracy, and deliver a notable industry advancement with great commercial potential.

Today, BCSI is focused on gaining commercial acceptance of its pH1000 in Europe, with trials underway in the Netherlands. The company also intends to bring the pH sensor technology to the U.S. market and the rest of the world.

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Technology Assistance

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 Assistance

Self-sustaining power source pulls energy out of the air

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Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a technology that extracts energy from its surrounding environment, creating a perpetual power source for compact, low-power devices such as wireless sensors or radio frequency transmitters. The Thermoelectric Ambient Energy Harvester exploits naturally occurring temperature differences, producing electricity whenever it detects these differences across the device's two ends.

The energy harvester technology was introduced to the private sector when a group of University of Oregon graduate students created an award-winning business plan and marketing strategy for the technology through the joint UO/PNNL Technology Entrepreneurship Program. Along with technology veterans from Hewlett-Packard, one of the entrepreneurial students founded Perpetua Power Source Technologies to build upon and commercialize the technology.

The Corvallis, Ore.-based company received an exclusive license from PNNL to incorporate the technology into its new product called the Perpetua Power Puck™. Its operating technology is based on a portfolio of novel, patent-pending thermoelectric generator (TEG) designs that allow the conversion of ambient thermal energy into electric power for a variety of low-power uses. The Perpetua energy harvester products are currently being marketed for industrial automation, military and other uses.

The self-sustaining nature of this technology is especially valuable for monitoring the integrity of dams, buildings, bridges, and pipelines—applications where sensors communicate with remote facilities, and maintenance or repair is costly and logistically difficult. Energy harvesters can replace or extend the life of traditional batteries used for these applications.

Awards

  • 2009 R&D 100 Award
  • 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer

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Technology Assistance

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 Assistance

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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