Three INEEL Inventions Win International Recognition

July 06, 1998

Breakthrough technology developed by researchers from Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Company have been selected as winners of prestigious Research and Development 100 Awards. Three groups of researchers were selected for the honor from only 100 awards presented internationally.

The winning Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory entries are

The 36th annual competition conducted by R&D Magazine recognizes 100 technologically significant products developed over the past year by the world's most creative scientists and engineers.

"This is great news for the laboratory. I am proud of the accomplishments of these scientists and the recognition it brings to the INEEL," says John Wilcynski, Department of Energy Idaho Operations Office manager.

John Denson, LMITCO president says, "These awards show the world we have excellent research talent here at the INEEL. This recognition gives us a chance to recognize their creative spirit and hard work. These projects are three examples of the INEEL's growing contributions to technology development in a variety of areas."

Safely Measures High Voltage

The Electro-optic High-Voltage Sensor (EOHVS) is a safe, small, non-electric, optical sensor that uses photons instead of electrons to measure high voltages on power lines. The most unique aspect of this technology is that the sensor does not have to be in electrical contact to effect a measurement, but simply within the conductor's electric field, a key advantage over the large transformers conventionally used for voltage measurement at power distribution sites. The EOHVS device offers substantial improvement over potential transformers in cost, ease of installation, range of response to voltage fluctuations and richness of application.

A key feature of EOHVS technology is the simplified structure of the sensor head. It is small enough to be placed or installed in devices in which electric fields arise, or built in as part of a component in a high-voltage power system, such as a controller, switch panel or insulator.

Although the developers have concentrated initially on voltage measurement at power substations, they believe the technology has unique advantages that will be critical in the emerging deregulated electric power industry. For example, businesses may want to automatically switch among multiple power providers to take advantage of the lowest spot prices. Precise metering by source will be key, and EOHVSs can keep track of who supplied what to assure proper billing.

"It is exciting working on emerging optical technologies at the INEEL. Our sensor will help the power industry to deliver power to homes and businesses. This will become even more important as the deregulation of the power industry continues and competition between power generation companies begins. Monitoring the flow of electricity through the power grid to the consumer will require more extensive metering than is presently available. We are helping with this by providing a safer, smaller, less expensive alternative to the technologies presently used," says Davidson, staff engineer.

Tooling Technology

Rapid Solidification Process (RSP) Tooling Technology is a fast, low-cost alternative to conventional fabrication of precision tooling used in the manufacture of nearly all mass produced products, from cell phones to automobiles. It is a sophisticated spray-forming process that uses hot, inert gas to atomize molten metal alloy in a specially designed and patented spray gun. This new technology promises to reduce the cost and lead time for producing tooling by a factor of five to 10, substantially shortening the time it takes industry to get products to market. Unlike other alternative tooling approaches, RSP Tooling Technology makes it possible to create tooling from hard tool steels at the rate of 2,000 pounds an hour or more, suitable for the largest auto industry requirements.

Earlier this year a broad cross section of manufacturing and tooling industry companies formed a consortium to scale up and commercialize the RSP Tooling technology. Participants in the initial phase of a two-year collaborative development project include: Baxter Healthcare Corp., Diemakers, Ford Motor Co., Hach Plastics, Johnson Controls, LaserFare, Lockheed Martin Acronautical Systems, Northwest Mettech Corp., Proctor & Gamble, and United Technologies Automotive. The consortium is organized through the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"We are currently producing 3-inch tooling inserts for the consortium's evaluation phase, and plan to scale up to 6-inch and ultimately 12-inch inserts fabricated with multiple spray nozzles and robotic manipulation," said McHugh.

Cereal Killers

The Malt-based Antimicrobial is a naturally occurring biopesticide derived from malted cereal grains. Developed as an environmental solution to agricultural crop protection, this product represents a major breakthrough in pesticide research. It offers an extraordinary taxonomic range, is easily and inexpensively produced, has an excellent shelf life, and may be used to protect crops in the field, in storage and in transport. Most importantly, this new biopesticide is harmless to people, animals and the environment. It is derived from a plentiful, renewable resource: common cereal grain.

The Malt-based Antimicrobial product resulted from the discovery that malting of cereal grains activates biological compounds that functions to protect the plant against disease caused by bacteria and fungi. These protective mechanisms occur naturally during germination, which malting simulates.

The Malt-based Antimicrobial offers the application breadth of chemical pesticides without the negative side effects. It theoretically can be applied to seeds as a pretreatment, used against foliar or soil borne plant pathogens, and used for post-harvest disease control. The product also offers new treatment solutions. For example, it has proven effective in combating pathogens in mature fruit, such as soft rot in potatoes, opening a virtually untapped market for treatment of stored crops and crops being transported to market. Competing biopesticides are not as easy to use and have limited field application. They are primarily used for seed pretreatment.

Development of the Malt-based Antimicrobial is expected to help farmers improve their environmental practices and maintain high levels of crop protection at a competitive cost of production.

The researchers will officially receive plaques commemorating their achievement at an awards banquet this fall at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. An article on the winners will appear in R&D Magazine.


Media Advisory for Wednesday, July 8: The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory is planning a press conference on Wednesday, July 8, at 10 a.m. in the Engineering Research Office Building, 2525 Fremont Ave., Idaho Falls. The press conference is to announce the awarding of three prestigious Research and Development 100 awards to INEEL scientists. The international award program selects the top 100 significant accomplishments in the area of research and development for this important recognition. This is a major good news event for the researchers at the INEEL. We hope you will be able to attend this press conference.

DOE/Idaho National Laboratory

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