INL wins three FLC Technology Transfer Awards

June 12, 2020

By Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho National Laboratory has won three Far West Regional Awards in 2017 from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC), a formally chartered network of federal laboratories, agencies and research centers.

INL employees were granted awards in three separate categories for their technology development and transfer excellence. Winners are invited to attend a banquet in late August to be recognized for their accomplishments. Congratulations to the winners!

Technology Transfer Professional of the Year: Gary W. Smith

Gary Smith, a senior commercialization manager with the Nuclear Science and Technology directorate, was honored as Technology Transfer Professional of the Year for his numerous achievements in commercialization impacts from industry-transforming technologies.

One of Smith’s most successful endeavors is the Reactor Excursion and Leak Analysis Program5-3D (RELAP5-3D), which reached a milestone 100th active license agreement this year. The RELAP5-3D code is used to analyze reactor safety systems in nuclear power plants. It is one of the most widely licensed software products within the Department of Energy. In the seven years since Smith added the RELAD5-3D code to his portfolio, the number of licenses has grown from seven to over 100, generating more than $4.7 million in revenue annually.

Gary Smith

Smith’s other notable accomplishments include drafting an Intellectual Property Management Plan for the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors as part of a five-member team, and successfully licensing numerous INL technologies, including two that earned R&D 100 awards.

In his 18 years as a technology transfer professional, Smith has been committed to his ongoing education and professional growth. He has been a member of the Licensing Executive Society and a Certified Licensing Professional. He completed courses in Entrepreneurial Development and Business Administration Training as well as the Professional Development Series offered by the Licensing Executives Society.

Smith is a dedicated mentor to INL interns and other students, a frequent guest speaker on entrepreneurship and marketing at local universities, and a selected screener for the Business Innovation and Growth entrepreneur competition in Idaho Falls.

His previous awards include: FLC Far West awards for Outstanding Commercialization Success in 2010 and 2014, FLC Far West Award for Outstanding Technology Development in 2015, Idaho National Laboratory Director’s Award in 2013, Performance+ Award, Most Valuable Group Intern Experience, and seven Exceptional Contributions Program Awards.

Outstanding Technology Development: Troy Garn (INL), Mitchell Greenhalgh (INL), Jack Law (INL), Steve Hammon (Rocky Mountain Scientific Corporation), Mike Irish (Rocky Mountain Scientific Corporation)

Three INL employees, along with Steve Hammon and Mike Irish of the Rocky Mountain Scientific Corporation, won the Outstanding Technology Development award for their work in remediation of toxic algae blooms.

Their development of a phosphate absorbent composite material establishes the potential to treat the leading cause of freshwater pollution. Made of a porous bead composite material, it is created by combining a unique phosphate-attracting compound with methods originally designed for aqueous separations in nuclear applications. It has been proven to effectively remove excess phosphates from water sources.

Act AgZ PAN half sphere
Phosphate absorbent composite material

Human activities and pollution have nearly quadrupled the amount of phosphates found in freshwater, which causes harmful algae blooms that have affected hundreds of thousands of people internationally over the last decade and can cause serious health issues. Current methods for removing algae are expensive and often impractical.

This phosphate absorbent could treat water more cost effectively, and offers an environmentally sound solution to the widespread devastation of algae blooms. The composite can be “wrung out” and thus reused indefinitely, while excess phosphates drawn from bodies of water can be recycled as a fertilizer feedstock ingredient.

This innovative technology could help remediate a growing concern that affects lakes, rivers and canals across the United States and throughout the world.

Outstanding Partnership: Energy and Environment Science and Technology Directorate

INL’s EES&T Directorate has been honored in the Outstanding Partnership category for its work with Montana Tech of the University of Montana. Under funding provided by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, INL and Montana Tech, in collaboration with Motloch Consulting and Qualtech Systems, Inc., have successfully developed an impedance measurement system that generates data to accurately monitor energy storage systems in only 10 to 15 seconds—an order of magnitude improvement in performance over other methods.

Impedance Measurement Box

This system, the Impedance Measurement Box (IMB), was recognized with an R&D 100 award in 2011 and has been undergoing the lengthy process of being licensed for commercial application. Its portfolio currently includes seven United States patents, three U.S. patent applications, two Patent Cooperation Treaty filings and one software copyright. After a two-year effort led by INL’s Technology Deployment Team, all jointly developed IMB patents were assigned to Battelle Energy Alliance to streamline intellectual property licensing activities.

This coordination led to a major commercialization milestone when the technology was exclusively licensed to Dynexus Technology, Inc. in December 2016. The Colorado-based company looks to design and market products based on IMB technology for a variety of uses, including backup battery power systems and plug-in electric vehicles. IMB technology can also be used within the military, telecommunications and critical infrastructure fields.

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About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. 

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Posted June 12, 2020

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