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RICHLAND, Wash. -- The environment and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are celebrating. Seven of the laboratory’s technologies -- most of which offer environmental solutions -- have landed on R&D Magazine’s list of the 100 most significant innovations of 1997.
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 45 awards since 1965, but never as many as seven in a single year.
Pacific Northwest’s honored technologies, which in some cases were developed jointly with other research partners, include new methods for cleaning contaminated water, designing energy efficient and environmentally friendly products and monitoring the atmosphere for nuclear weapons debris.
This year’s winning entries are:
In-Situ Redox Manipulation. This groundwater remediation technique safely, permanently and cost-effectively destroys or immobilizes toxic and carcinogenic contaminants within an aquifer. ISRM involves injecting a non-toxic chemical solution into the aquifer through a groundwater well, effectively creating an in-situ treatment zone within the contaminant plume. The treatment destroys or immobilizes chemically reducible metallic and organic contaminants under natural flow conditions. The technique was developed by Pacific Northwest researchers John Fruchter, Charlie Cole, Mark Williams, Vince Vermeul, Jim Amonette and Jim Szecsody. Battelle, operator of Pacific Northwest, and Schlumberger Ltd., of Colorado, are teaming to market and develop the technology.
Life-Cycle Advantage™. For products, processes and services, this software package characterizes the lifetime energy and environmental implications, including consideration of raw material extraction, processing, transportation, end-use, waste management and recycling impacts. It helps product designers, process engineers and policymakers with emerging environmental challenges, such as designing recyclable products, selecting environmentally friendly raw materials, developing zero-waste technologies, formulating competitive environmental business strategies and developing environmental policies. The technology was developed by researchers Ken Humphreys, Devin Terry, Susan Adams, Marty Adickes, Scott Freeman, Mark Johnston, Tami Stewart and Bruce Vigon. Battelle sponsored the commercialization.
Radionuclide Aerosol Sampler/Analyzer. Originally designed to give the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty eyes and ears, this technology is a completely automated radionuclide measurement system that detects airborne radioactive particles. The device can measure debris from nuclear weapons testing, no matter where or when a nuclear weapon was detonated. RASA merges a mechanical system that traps airborne particulate on filters and moves the filter past a gamma-ray detector with an operating system that continually verifies its operations and communicates data about the particulate to a central data center. Researchers who developed RASA are Harry Miley, Charles Hubbard, David McKinnon, Robert C. Thompson and Richard Perkins (retired). DME Corporation of Orlando, Fla., manufactures RASA units.
Rapid Microdialyzer. Biological samples naturally contain high concentrations of salts and other compounds, which can create problems during analysis. This device quickly -- in four minutes or less -- removes the salts and cleanses biological and other liquid mixture samples, including microsamples that otherwise might not be usable. The Rapid Microdialyzer is expected to expand significantly medical, clinical and analytical applications of mass spectrometry. Developers are Richard D. Smith, Chuanliang Liu and Quinyuan Wu.
Self-Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports. SAMMS is a new class of materials that can remove metals and radionuclides from aqueous and organic liquids and gaseous streams. SAMMS integrates mesoporous ceramics technology first created by Mobil Oil Corp. with an innovative method for attaching "monolayers" -- single layers of densely packed molecules -- to the pore surfaces throughout the tiny grains of ceramic material. The molecules are custom designed to seek out mercury, lead, chromium and other metals. Available in powder or bead forms, SAMMS has potential applications in soil and water cleanup at sites where mercury contamination is prevalent, as well as industrial waste water treatment and metal recovery. Developers are Jun Liu, Glen Fryxell, Li-Qiong Wang, Meiling Gong, former staff member Xiangdong Feng and Mobil researchers.
MICLEAN™/MICARE™ Solvent Cleaning Systems. This industrial cleaning process utilizes special detergents created from polymer-based formulations to increase significantly the scrubbing power of liquid carbon dioxide. Used to clean garments or metal parts, the system provides industry and consumers a recyclable, environmentally safe, yet equally effective alternative to ozone-depleting or hazardous cleaning compounds. Through an agreement with Battelle, MICELL Technologies, of North Carolina, is commercializing the system. Developers are John L. Fulton, Max Phelps, Richard D. Smith and MICELL Technologies researchers.
R-TiC Metals Emission Monitor. This instrument provides continuous monitoring of hazardous metal emissions from incinerators, plasma furnaces and thermal processes used in manufacturing and fossil fuel electric power plants. The monitor utilizes a microwave plasma sustained by a source for atomic-emission-spectroscopy gas. It can be installed directly on an emissions stack. The monitor is accurate, sensitive and provides information rapidly. It can be used to monitor compliance with environmental regulations and identify problems in thermal processes that could result in metals air pollution. The developers include David Lamar and four researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Pacific Northwest is one of DOE’s nine multiprogram national laboratories and conducts research in the fields of environment, energy, health sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated Pacific Northwest for DOE since 1965.
Materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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