State fund advances titanium powder research, 9 other Iowa State projects

November 05, 2008

AMES, Iowa - A research team led by Iver Anderson is developing a cheaper and better way to make a titanium alloy powder that can be used to manufacture artificial joints.

That could mean titanium joints, which can resist corrosion for the lifetime of a patient, could be affordable enough to replace stainless steel joints, which are commonly used today but can corrode after five years. And that could save patients the additional surgeries required to replace failing artificial joints.

Anderson, a senior metallurgist for the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and an Iowa State adjunct professor of materials science and engineering, is hoping the new metals and new processing technology developed by his research team could lead to the creation of a new startup business called Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies and a new biomedical manufacturing industry in Iowa.

A grant from the Grow Iowa Values Fund, a state economic development program, will help advance the titanium powder project and nine others on the Iowa State University campus.

Iowa lawmakers agreed in 2005 to appropriate $5 million per year for 10 years to support economic development programs and research projects at Iowa's Regent universities. This year's funding was cut by 20 percent to provide additional state money for flood relief.

This is the fourth time Iowa State has awarded competitive grants from the Grow Iowa Values Fund. The grants are to go to research projects with high potential to boost the state's economic development efforts. The grants in this year's competition total $945,246 and range from $25,121 to the $171,499 supporting the titanium powder project.

The state grant will help Anderson and graduate students Andy Heidloff and Joel Rieken build a prototype atomizer to produce the titanium alloy powder.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Iowa State University Research Foundation, Anderson has already developed and patented a special pouring tube that can stand up to molten titanium and the atomization technology used to convert the molten metal into titanium powder.

With the help of the Grow Iowa Values Fund grant, "We're putting the pieces together to develop this prototype," Anderson said. "We want to demonstrate this technology to attract venture capital. This is a great chance to do something like spin off a company."

The other Grow Iowa Values Fund grants at Iowa State this year are:
-end-
Contacts:
Iver Anderson, U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, Materials Science and Engineering, (515) 294-9791, andersoni@ameslab.gov
Lisa Lorenzen, Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, (515) 294-0926, llorenze@iastate.edu
Steve Karsjen, U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, (515) 294-5643, karsjen@ameslab.gov
Mike Krapfl, News Service, (515) 294-4917, mkrapfl@iastate.edu

Iowa State University

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