Pacific Northwest Developments Named In Top 100 List

July 30, 1997

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Technologies developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have claimed three of the top 100 slots in R&D Magazine's list of the most significant innovations of 1996. The magazine conducts the annual R&D 100 Award competition to honor the most promising new products, processes, materials or software developed throughout the world. Awards are based on a product's technical significance, uniqueness and usefulness. Pacific Northwest researchers have received 38 awards since 1965.

This year's winning entries are:

Production of Chemicals from Biologically Derived Succinic Acid.
This process converts corn into a cost-effective, environmentally friendly source of chemicals used to make polymers, clothing fibers, paints, inks, food additives, automobile bumpers and other industrial and consumer products. Succinic acid, produced by fermenting the sugar found in corn, is converted to chemicals that are used to make an assortment of products. The process was developed by Pacific Northwest researchers John Frye, Yong Wang and Sarah Burton, former employee Todd Werpy and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Refractory Corrosion Monitor.
This device monitors the thickness of insulation in high-temperature furnaces while the furnace is in operation. High-temperature furnaces are used in waste remediation, power production and to manufacture materials such as glass and steel. A key feature of these furnaces is the refractory insulation that encloses the high-temperature region inside the furnace. The ability to monitor the refractory condition during operation improves productivity and extends the life of furnace components while minimizing downtime required for inspections. Developers are David Lamar of Pacific Northwest along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers.

This technology is based on the use of sulphur-metabolizing microorganisms to create permanent chemical bonds between recycled and new, unvulcanized tire rubber. The end result is a cost-effective method of producing vulcanized rubber products, such as automobiles tires, that perform better than those manufactured solely with new rubber. The process also increases the recyclability of the approximately two billion waste tires stockpiled in the United States. Developers are Bob Romine, Margaret Romine, Lesley Snowden-Swan, Harley Freeman and Gary Neuenschwander.

Inventors of all three technologies will be honored by R&D Magazine in September at a ceremony in Chicago. This is the 34th year of competition.

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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