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January 26, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Five companies with Oak Ridge ties in running for DOE award

Five companies with ties to either Oak Ridge National laboratory (ORNL) or the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) are among 14 finalists for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” award.

Three of the companies are Tennessee-based companies and include TrakLok, Inc. in Knoxville, Borla Performance Industries in Johnson City and Woodmont Enterprises in Nashville. All have license options with ORNL as does SH Coatings of Dallas. The fifth company, Teknikem in Clinton, SC, is a licensee of Y-12.

In a news release issued on January 26, DOE online voting to select “the most innovative and promising start-up companies” in the competition continues until 8:59 a.m. EST on Monday, February 6.

“Through the America’s Next Top Energy Innovator Challenge, we are unleashing start-up companies to do what they do best: create new products, new industries, and new jobs,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “We challenged America’s entrepreneurs and innovators to create new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories.”

“America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” effort is part of the Startup America initiate that is designed to ensure the best possible climate for high-growth entrepreneurs across the country.

DOE noted that the companies participating in the challenge signed option licensing agreements with one of DOE’s 17 National Laboratories and the Y-12 National Security Complex. The agreements were part of a new push by DOE to streamline and simplify the licensing process. A total of 36 companies have executed the option agreements.

The DOE press release contained the following information about the five Oak Ridge-related companies.

Borla Performance Industries, based in Johnson City, has an option to license a novel, nano-pore membrane technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Combining this innovation with Borla’s exhaust technology will lead to a low cost, unique exhaust system that will double as an energy neutral device to recover and reclaim clean water from engines powered by diesel, gasoline or natural gas. Military and commercial applications include transport and stationery power plants, marine, cars and trucks. View a video on the company’s technology.

SH Coatings, based in Dallas, Texas, employs Super Hydrophobic Coating (SHC) technology that protects power systems by preventing ice accumulation on power lines in ice storm threatened areas and contamination of power lines from salt on the coasts.  In order to successfully utilize and commercialize the SHC technology for this application, tools to apply the coating onto new and existing lines must be developed. SH Coatings is developing these tools with the help of technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. View a video on the company’s technology.

Teknikem, based in Clinton, South Carolina, is developing a chemical blend platform technology invented by the Y-12 National Security Complex that is known as RonJohn.  RonJohn is a safer, more eco-friendly alternative to dangerous chemicals and processes used to strip paints and adhesives from parts and equipment.  RonJohn is not toxic, not flammable, not carcinogenic, but is biodegradable and very effective on many plastics, paints, and adhesives.  Market segments and channels are being developed including the military, aerospace, shipping construction/maintenance, ground transportation, general industry, and consumer retail. View a video on the company’s technology.

TrakLok, Inc., based in Knoxville, Tenn., intends to use an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)-developed, technology for tagging, tracking, locating and communicating with cargo containers and trailers in transit. The ORNL technology provides an avenue to meet increasing requirements for shipping containers to be “smart boxes” that can be tracked electronically. TrakLok uses GPS technology and satellite communications as part of its tracking and warning capability and international container locking technology to protect against container tampering, theft, vandalism and smuggling. Shipments can be tracked through a web-accessible, information technology-based global tracking system to provide real time visibility of cargo. View a video on the company’s technology.

Woodmont Enterprises, based in Nashville, Tennessee, is creating a top-coat solution moisture barrier product for oriented-strand board (OSB), an engineered wood product formed by layering flakes of wood, by using technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The primary focus is to create a moisture barrier on OSB during transportation and after installation. One net benefit to moisture protected OSB after installation is mold resistance. View a video on the company’s technology.

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