Five technologies invented by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory were selected for targeted investment through ORNL’s Innovation Program.

Mike Paulus, director of technology transfer at ORNL, said: “Our TIP program accelerates that transfer by enhancing commercial readiness and increasing visibility.”

Since 2012, ORNL has invested over $11 million in 49 projects, resulting in 35 commercial licenses and options with partners ranging from Fortune 100 companies to early stage start-ups.

The five technologies and their inventors are:

Ultraclean Condensing Furnace, Zhiming Gao, Building and Transportation Science Division. Condensate from furnace equipment is corrosive and contains reactive chemicals. This project, in collaboration with Trane Technologies and the California Statewide Gas Emerging Technologies Program, is an ultra-clean and efficient natural gas abatement system with compact, cost-effective acid gas abatement components that remove over 99.9% of chemical emissions. It aims to advance, demonstrate and commercialize gas furnaces. , leading to neutral condensate and clean flue gas. Neutral condensate allows for simpler and cheaper furnace designs, increasing efficiency and reducing installation costs. The technology recently received an R&D 100 Award.

Rapid Droplet Sampling Interface, Vilmos Kertesz, Bioscience Division. This technique is a versatile and cost-effective sample introduction method for rapid chemical analysis of droplets by mass spectrometry. Speed, scale, and data quality are essential in high-throughput pharmaceutical and clinical screening laboratories dealing with complex biology. These labs routinely analyze tens of thousands of samples per day. Increased sampling throughput means millions of dollars in cost savings. This proposal seeks to evaluate the capabilities of a rapid droplet sampling interface in high-throughput sampling of target molecules using large-scale laboratory applications.

Closed Cell Insulating Foam Enabled by Coated and Evacuated Nanoporous Materials, Meghan Lamm, Manufacturing Science Division. This technology incorporates coated, evacuated nanoporous microspheres into a foam thermoset matrix to produce robust, closed-cell insulation foam panels that outperform both conventional non-vacuum-based conventional insulation and vacuum insulation panels. To do. This ORNL technology uses formulations and processes that already exist in the manufacturing industry, so it is easily scalable and offers significant economic value. This process produces materials that are mechanically robust, environmentally sustainable, flame and smoke resistant, and easier to install than current conventional materials.

Recycling Mixed Plastics with Tailored Organocatalysts, Tomonori Saito, Division of Chemical Sciences. More than 300 tons of plastic waste goes unrecycled each year, costing $100 billion in plastic losses. Mixed plastics – bottles, packaging, foams, lenses, textiles, carpets – are difficult to recycle with conventional technology. Saito’s technology is an organocatalyst (small organic molecules that can catalyze reactions in the absence of metals) that can easily break down a wide variety of mixed plastic waste into valuable chemicals. This project will enable further development of technology using real plastic waste.

Accelerating the development of orally bioavailable therapeutics for betacoronavirus through structure-based molecular design, Brian Sanders, Department of Biosciences. New drugs are essential for therapeutic intervention against COVID-19 and biopreparation for future beta-coronavirus outbreaks. A team led by Sanders and co-lead researcher Jerry Parks has developed a potent enzyme inhibitor that stops the coronavirus from multiplying. This inhibitor has worked well in laboratory experiments involving mammalian cells, but further development is needed to enhance the properties that result in an effective oral drug. It aims to advance the next generation of inhibitors and prepare the next generation of drug candidates for commercialization and clinical trials.

Each year, a panel of ORNL leaders and commercial experts review and select attractive technologies for a year of investment in research, development and outreach. At the end of the year, these technologies will be presented to industry partners for potential licensing.

Learn more about the TIP program and past licensable projects.


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