SEATTLE —  From contamination detection to cattle waste, semiconductors to sawmill residue, six Washington companies have teamed with researchers from Washington State University to conduct critical research as a result of funding awards from the Washington Technology Center.

WTC’s Research & Technology Development (RTD) program awards more than $1 million annually to university researchers working with emerging technology companies on projects that show potential for commercial success.

Proposals are evaluated on the basis of technical merit, economic impact and commercial viability. The financing assistance is designed to help the companies advance specific R&D efforts that will enable them to enter or advance in the commercial marketplace and ultimately generate new technology job in Washington. RTD grants are awarded twice annually in Fall and Spring. RTD recipients represent businesses across Washington, with operations on both sides of the state, extending from Seattle, North Bend and Wenatchee to Colville, Spokane and Tri-Cities.

The following six Washington State University projects received Spring RTD Awards:

* Enerdyne Solutions, North Bend, WA, is partnering with George LaRue and Mohamed Osman with WSU’s Electrical Engineering Department to develop a Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) Radio Frequency (RF) amplifier for use in wireless communications and radar applications that has two-to-three-times higher thermal performance over existing designs. This has the potential to increase power and reliability without compromising battery life or adding to the cost, size or weight of the device. 

* Galaxy Compound Semiconductor, Spokane, WA, is working with Matthew McCluskey at WSU’s Department of Physics to characterize a new infrared detector material that will have a wider spectral range than conventional detectors. An indium antimonide (InSb) based material that operates in the far infrared region would be a strong competitor to mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) semiconductors in this market. To achieve this, Galaxy proposes adding Bismuth (Bi) to the alloy to extend the wavelength. Prototypes of the new detector will be tested, opening up new markets for Galaxy and increasing interest in InSbBi semiconductor materials.

* Multiform Harvest, Inc, Seattle, WA, is teamed with Joseph Harrison from the Department of Animal Sciences at WSU Puyallup to test the effectiveness of a fluidized-bed crystallizer to remove phosphorus from dairy waste to prevent environmental degradation of surface water. Dairy production is one of the top-ranked agricultural industries in Washington. One third of all dairy farms in Washington use flush/irrigation systems to create liquid fertilizer from the cattle waste. EPA regulations are calling for a reduction in phosphorus levels in these fertilizers. Solutions currently available are costly and cumbersome for dairy farmers to implement.

* Paine Electronics, with operations in Seattle and Wenatchee, WA, is working with David Bahr of WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering to produce two prototype strain sensors for Paine’s pressure gauges that will increase the products’ sensitivity while maintaining the robust mechanical reliability of the devices. Paine’s pressure transducers and pressure transmitters are used in aerospace, defense, oil and gas, marine and other industries.

* Vaagen Brothers Lumber, Inc., Colville, WA, is partnering with Vikram Yadama and Karl Englund from WSU’s Wood Materials & Engineering Laboratory to analyze and characterize sawmill residue as a potential fiber source for the manufacturing of wood plastic composites, the potential of which could add value to mill waste that is economically and environmentally sound.

* Vista Engineering Technologies, Kennewick, WA, is working with Kelvin Lynn from WSU’s Center for Materials Research to develop non-invasive gaseous tracers for use with Vista’s patented Pipeline Characterization Using Tracers (PCUT) method for detecting, locating and quantifying contamination within pipelines and ductwork.  PCUT technology is advantageous and preferred over conventional inspection techniques as it can be used on any pipe diameter or configuration, has no moving parts, requires no equipment decontamination, and inspects all the interior pipeline surfaces. The PCUT technique has already been proven with other contaminants such as petroleum products and solvents. The current work with WSU will extend the use of the technology to pipelines and ductwork with heavy metal contamination such as mercury.

About the Washington Technology Center
WTC is a statewide economic development agency focused on technology and innovation. We spark ideas, form connections between people and resources, and foster job growth to position our state as a national technology leader. WTC supports business by: 1) providing access to technical expertise; 2) supporting funding for company projects jointly with universities; 3) offering consultation on federal R&D, small business and product development grants; 4) helping companies maximize their growth capital opportunities; and 5) housing a 15,000 square-foot public Microfabrication Laboratory, offering state-of-the-art process tools for research, technology development, and prototype manufacturing. The impact of WTC’s work has generated $312 million in external funding for participating companies and researchers. For more information visit us online at http://www.watechcenter.org or contact us at 206-685-1920.