Iowa start-up may be “America’s next top energy innovator”
Washington D.C. -- U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced that an Iowa based start-up company has been selected to participate in the Department of Energy’s “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge. Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies (IPAT) has signed a technology license agreement to use technologies developed by Ames Laboratory to produce fine titanium powder that can be used to improve military, biomedical and aerospace components, and can possibly be used in artificial limbs like those used by wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan less expensive. The “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge is part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to jump start entrepreneurship and innovation and allows start-up companies streamlined access to technologies developed at America’s 17 national laboratories for a reduced upfront fee of just $1,000.
“This is a great example of what can happen when we unleash the American innovation machine and allow entrepreneurs to turn a great idea into a business opportunity,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “By making it easier, faster and cheaper for start-ups to license groundbreaking technologies we can move innovative ideas to the marketplace – creating jobs and growing our economy.”
Titanium’s strength, light weight, biocompatibility and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for use in a variety of parts – from components for artifical limbs, to military vehicle components, to biomedical implants, aerospace fasteners and chemical plant valves. Using technologies developed at the Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, IPAT will use a titanium powder making process that is 10 times more efficient than traditional powder making methods, which will significantly lower the cost of the powder to manufacturers.
IPAT aims to develop the first-of-its-kind commercial scale gas atomizer specifically to produce fine titanium powder. Traditional part-making techniques like casting, where manufacturers melt and pour liquid metal into molds can be troublesome when working with titanium because titanium tends to react with the materials used to form molds, requiring extensive processing to convert bulk components to precise parts. A possible solution to the casting mold problem is using gas atomization to make fine, spherical powder titanium and using the powder to make parts. Manufacturers can then inject the powder and convert molded shapes to final parts by high-temperature treatment.
“America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge is part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America Initiative to encourage high-growth entrepreneurship in the United States. By reducing the paperwork and cost associated with obtaining option agreements to license technology developed at national laboratories, the DOE is making it easier for start-up companies to succeed and create new jobs in America. Entrepreneurs who complete the process and demonstrate progress toward executing their business plan and commercializing the technology will have the opportunity to be showcased at the 3rd Annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in 2012. This is the first option agreement signed by Ames Laboratory under the challenge. To date 11 options to license technologies have been signed with the national laboratories.
Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the challenge can view the available technologies and the restructured patent agreement on the Department's Energy Innovation Portal website.