WERC has actively pursued research projects that show promise for commercialization. Several of these technologies are being patented. Through a technology deployment program, WERC provides several services to consortium members:
- direct funding,
- identification of investors,
- development of business plans,
- fabrication of prototypes,
- surrogate entrepreneurs for faculty who did not wish to participate beyond the technical development phase of the project, and
- negotiation of contractual agreements for intellectual property.
IEE has also pursued activities outside of academic institutions, creating a greater number of possible technologies for application. For example, WERC provided technical and business consultation, marketing assistance, and design and fabrication of a mobile fracturing unit for Golden, CO based Foremost Solutions, Inc.‘s enhanced natural bioremediation of hydrocarbon spills (such as petroleum or gasoline). As a result of collaboration with Foremost Solutions, WERC received an equity position in the company in 2001.
Deployed Technologies from IEE
- Reverse Osmosis (RO) Design Method: Masoud Aghajani with support from IEE filed a patent entitled “Reverse Osmosis (RO) Design Method” and its associated “Decision Tool” which produce design criteria to reduce total cost of water in RO desalination and water reuse applications. The technology features: improved operational efficiency, utilizes currently existing RO membranes, no additional capital cost when compared to conventional designs, and applicable to both operational plants as well as new designs that utilize membrane technology.
- ZIFs Based on Ring Carbonyl Containing Imidazoles and their Synthesis: Nasser Khazeni with support from IEE filed a patent entitled “ZIFs Based on Ring Carbonyl Containing Imidazoles and their Synthesis”. The technology is a special material that can capture carbon dioxide with greater capacity than any technology currently in widespread use for that purpose and focuses on the post-combustion separation of carbon dioxide – how can it be more efficiently separated out, transported and stored or reused.
Deployed Technologies from WERC
- Remediation of Plutonium in Soils: This project resulted in an in-situ colloid remediation for plutonium and other materials. The strategy resulted in immobilization of the radionuclides and waste demonstrated at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The technology was further developed and deployed at DOE’s Yucca Mountain site and in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Development of a Flow-Through Immunosensor: This project demonstrated the potential for application of potentiometric enzyme electrodes based on mediator-less enzyme electrocatalysis for fast and sensitive assay of various pathogens. The resulting immunoassay system is currently being commercialized by a private firm.
- Subsurface Characterization of Buried Waste Sites: A system was developed using different sensor methods to present a sophisticated 3-D computer characterization for mapping of buried waste sites. The project was demonstrated at Sandia National Laboratories and resulted in further collaboration with RTR, Inc., a private remediation business.
- Underground Leak Detection: An acoustic-energy signal based instrumentation system was developed to monitor pressurized pipelines for evidence of leaks. This system was deployed at the Lynx Petroleum Company site in Artesia, New Mexico.
- Treatment of Underground Storage Tank Contamination Using Tailored Zeolites: This project utilized injection of tailored zeolites to adsorb hazardous waste materials around underground storage tanks and was deployed through the Petroleum Environmental Research Foundation.
- Slurry Phase Bioremediation of Production Pit Sludges: A process for remediating oilfield production waste waters through a slurry-phase bioremediation technology was developed. Wastewaters were washed in a compound of micro-organisms that biodegraded the oil. The specific micro-organism was tailored to the contaminant to be removed. This technology was applied in China.
- Arsenic Speciation Test Kit: The test kit allows for arsenic species to be separated in the field and sent to a commercial laboratory for analysis. This kit is currently going through the patent process and is being tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Encapsulation of Hazardous Waste in Brick Form: Waste was encapsulated and chemically bound together by an innovative high pressure process that combined fly ash, water and wastes into brick form. The process was deployed at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency superfund site.
- Methane Capture from Decomposing Waste in Landfills: This project developed an anaerobic bioconversion system that utilized recycled water to optimize methane production. This technology is applicable to landfill monitoring, while at the same time producing low-cost fuel. The technology was deployed in Japan.
- Remediation of Lead and Other Contaminants in Soil by a Heap Leaching Process: This process demonstrated a solvent extraction remediation technique for heavy metals such as chromium and lead. Ethylene diamine tetracetic acid (ETDA) proved to be an effective chelating agent and removed up to 98 percent of the lead from the soil. It was deployed at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
- Enhanced In-situ Biodenitrification: Different amendment delivery systems for the in-situ treatment of nitrate contaminated groundwater were developed and evaluated. These studies were carried out at a contaminated site in Albuquerque’s south valley.