PULLMAN, Wash. — 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 technical merit, economic impact and commercial viability. The financing assistance is designed to help companies advance specific R&D efforts that will enable them to enter or advance in the commercial marketplace and ultimately generate new technology jobs in Washington.

The following six WSU-related projects received spring RTD awards:

Enerdyne Solutions in North Bend is partnering with George LaRue and Mohamed Osman from WSU’s electrical engineering department to develop a gallium-arsenide radio frequency amplifier for use in wireless communications and radar applications. This technology 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 of Spokane is working with Matthew McCluskey at WSU’s physics department to characterize a new infrared detector material that will have a wider spectral range than conventional detectors. An indium antimonide-based material that operates in the far infrared region would be a strong competitor to mercury-cadmium-telluride semiconductors in this market. To achieve this, Galaxy proposes adding bismuth to the alloy to extend the wavelength. Prototypes of the new detector will be tested, potentially opening up new markets for Galaxy.

Multiform Harvest Inc. of Seattle has teamed with Joseph Harrison from the animal sciences department at WSU Extension in Puyallup to test the effectiveness of a fluidized-bed crystallizer, which removes phosphorus from dairy waste to prevent environmental degradation of surface water. One-third of all dairy farms in Washington use flush/irrigation systems to create liquid fertilizer from cattle waste. Environmental Protection Agency regulations call 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, is working with David Bahr of WSU’s mechanical and materials engineering school to produce two prototype strain sensors for Paine’s pressure gauges. The sensors 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. of Colville is partnering with Vikram Yadama and Karl Englund from WSU’s Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory to analyze and characterize sawmill residue as a potential fiber source for the manufacturing of wood-plastic composites. This could prove to be an economically and environmentally sound way to add value to mill waste.

Vista Engineering Technologies of Kennewick is working with Kelvin Lynn from WSU’s Center for Materials Research to develop noninvasive gaseous tracers for use with Vista‘s patented Pipeline Characterization Using Tracers method for detecting, locating and quantifying contamination within pipelines and ductwork. The method 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.

WTC is a statewide economic development agency focused on technology and innovation. The center’s work has generated $312 million in external funding for participating companies and researchers. For more information, visit the WTC website at www.watechcenter.org.