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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory wins three R&D 100 Awards

July 27, 2000 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and their collaborators have developed three of the 100 most significant innovations of 2000, according to R&D Magazine. Resulting technologies are reducing losses on food production lines, helping to ensure the safety of food and may replace glass with engineered plastics in electronic display panels.

Each year R&D conducts the R&D 100 Award competition to honor the most promising new products, processes, materials or software developed throughout the world. Awards are based on each achievement's technical significance, uniqueness and usefulness. Pacific Northwest researchers have received 54 R&D 100 Awards since 1969.

Pacific Northwest's winning technologies for 2000 are:

A system that immediately identifies cutting blade failures on food processing lines-Broken knives can cause irregular cuts and generate truckloads of product that doesn't meet quality specifications. Processing plants incur costs to re-sort the product and have the waste shipped away for use as animal feed.

Human inspectors can take upward of an hour to catch blade failures. However, the Knife Failure Detector, developed by Pacific Northwest and the Lamb-Weston Technical Research Center, in Richland, Wash., takes less than one second to spot part failure and trigger redirection of product flow.

The detector system combines wireless power and data transmission with acoustic-based detection methods. Designed to operate in severe conditions, including constant immersion of equipment in water, the system is installed and serviced during a plant's regular maintenance cycle. This real-time process monitoring technology can be used to ensure product quality and equipment integrity in other industrial situations where measurements are difficult to obtain, such as detecting pipe leaks or monitoring rotating machinery.

A radiation dose measurement system that is low cost, versatile and precise-Recent government approval of irradiation to kill bacteria in red meat expands the need for an accurate, inexpensive way to measure how much radiation food and other products are getting. Licensed to Sunna Systems Inc., of Richland, Wash., this dosimeter technology offers instantaneous readings that can be repeated. The measuring unit uses light instead of heat to read the amount of radiation passing through the product. The Sunna DosimeterTM can measure a wider range of doses than other technologies, is resistant to most environmental conditions and has a long shelf life. Food processors utilizing electronic pasteurization require a dosimeter that is extremely robust, operationally easy to use, cost-effective and can be mass-produced. The Sunna dosimeter meets all these criteria.

This system is a useful quality assurance tool for many irradiation processes, including food irradiation, medical equipment sterilization and radiation processing or curing of environmentally friendly inks and paints that require no solvents.

A coating that makes possible plastic display panels for electronics- If television screens and laptop computer or cell phone displays were made out of plastic, they would weigh less, be more rugged and one day may even be flexible enough to roll up like a projector screen.

However, plastics are not used for these display panels because oxygen and water vapor easily pass through plastic to damage the electronics. But now, two ultra barrier coating products licensed to Vitex Systems Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., offer extremely high levels of barrier protection that will allow plastic to play a significant role in the display industry. Without these products-Flexible GlassTM engineered substrates and BarixTM-coating even the moisture in the air would cause sensitive Organic Light Emitting Devices to fail in a matter of days. However, coated test units have survived eight months of exposure to air and continue to function while being completely submerged in water.

R&D will honor the researchers who developed these three technologies at a "black tie" event at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL., on September 27.

More information on these and previous Pacific Northwest R&D 100 Awards can be found at http://www.pnl.gov/main/welcome/awards/rd100/. Business inquiries on Pacific Northwest technologies should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or inquiry@pnl.gov.

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Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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