ABSTRACTS-Phase I (Continued)
Topic 22-Chemical and Transport Systems Resources

162. Transport of Colloidal-Sized Particles through Porous Media-A New Approach to the Formation of Impermeable and Reactive Subsurface Barriers
Lynntech, Inc.
7610 Eastmark Dr., Suite 105
College Station, TX 77840
tel: 409-693-0017; fax: 409-764-7479
Principal Investigator: Dr. Dalibor Hodko
President: Oliver J. Murphy
NSF Grant No. 9660022; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project describes an innovative method for the formation of impermeable and/or reactive barriers in soil with possible applications in geo-engineering and environmental cleanup technologies. The installation of vertical subsurface barriers is standard practice in civil and mining engineering; however, methods for in situ construction of horizontal (bottom) barriers have not yet been satisfactorily developed. The primary weakness in all applications of horizontal barrier emplacement is the inability of grouting contractors to completely define the extent and nature of the injected materials-that is, to verify where the barrier material actually went. It is likely that the acceptance of any subsurface barrier technology in soil and groundwater remediation will depend on the ability to verify the barrier continuity. A novel approach to the formation of continuous horizontal and/or vertical subsurface barriers is proposed. An example of the formation of horizontal barriers that will be capable of containing and destroying organic contaminants in polluted soil will be investigated. The feasibility of the formation of cementitious impermeable subsurface barriers and two types of reactive permeable subsurface barriers will be tested.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The developed technology will be of considerable use to the federal government as a cost-effective method for the formation of hydraulically impermeable and permeable reactive horizontal surface barriers for the containment and destruction of organic pollutants in soil and groundwater. Initial markets for the proposed technology could be repair and maintenance of subsurface landfill barriers, and treatment of polluted groundwater and soil at industrial and military sites.

163. Ultra-Low-NOx Micromixed Burner
Fossil Energy Research Corp.
23342 C South Pointe
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
tel: 949-859-4466; fax: 949-859-7916
e-mail: lmuzio@ferco.com
Principal Investigator: Lawrence J. Muzio
President: Richard E. Thompson
NSF Grant No. 9660044; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovative Research Phase I project involves the development of an enhanced micromixed natural gas combustion process. The novel combustion process allows the performance of a burner fuel/air mixing system to approach the performance of a premixed combustion system. This development has two major benefits. First, it provides a means to approach very low NOx levels by not only controlling thermal NOx formation but also minimizing prompt NOx formation. This is key to achieving ultra-low NOx performance (i.e., less than 10 ppm). The proposed concept involves a novel approach to provide micromixing of fuel and air in order to achieve ultra-low NOx emissions (i.e., less than 10 ppm).

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Completion of Phases I and II will result in the development of an ultra-low NOx burner concept capable of sub 10 ppm NOx emissions. The novel concept enhances micromixing and can be used as a stand-alone burner or incorporated into current low-NOx burner systems. The concept should be readily integrated into a variety of industrial burner designs. Industry acceptance should be high because the "burner" should look like a conventional burner and not require extensive modifications to the combustion system. In addition, the cost of adapting this combustion process to a burner is expected to be relatively low, another factor important to industry acceptance.

164. Mitigation of Coke Deposits on Heat Transfer Surfaces via Ion Implantation
Harvest Energy Technology
9253 Glenoaks Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
tel: 818-767-3157; fax: 818-767-0246
Principal Investigator: David W. Warren
President: David W. Warren
NSF Grant No. 9660075; Amount: $74,028

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project involves investigation of ion implantation for modifying the properties of commercial metal alloys to mitigate the growth of catalytic coke that forms on critical heat transfer surfaces during many important high-temperature processes, including ethylene cracking, heavy oil refining, partial oxidation, and substoichiometric combustion. These coke deposits are generated as byproducts of thermal cracking reactions and diminish heat transfer rates, thermal efficiencies, and reactor product yields. Work will focus on ion implantation of selected period elements, such as alkali/alkaline earth, and aluminum, into commercial alloys to suppress coke formation by (1) promoting the gasification of carbon, (2) altering the catalytic activity of metals for the formation of carbon radicals, and (3) impeding the process of carburization. Ion implantation offers a more durable method for treating critical heat transfer surfaces than do conventional coating techniques (such as electroplating and plasma spraying) because it is less prone to cracking and delamination under extreme thermal environments. In Phase I, the coking rates of ion beam implanted metal coupons will be compared with data for conventional alloys under industrial thermal cracking conditions to assess the effectiveness of this technique. Phase II work will focus on the use of emerging ion implantation techniques to allow application to more complex geometries including the inside of commercial furnace tubes.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Ion implantation of selected elements to mitigate coke deposits on high-temperature metallic surfaces can significantly improve the operating economy and life of heat transfer equipment subjected to thermal cracking conditions. Commercial applications include treatment of thermal cracking furnace tubes and burner components.

165. Innovative Reburning Technique for Deep NOx Control
Energy & Environmental Research Corp.
18 Mason
Irvine, CA 92618
tel: 949-859-8851; fax: 949-859-3194
e-mail: vzamansky@eercorp.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Vladimir M. Zamansky
President: Dr. Thomas J. Tyson
NSF Grant No. 9660084; Amount: $75,000

Prospective technologies for stationary post-combustion NOx control include the following: selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), and reburning. SNCR and SCR reduce NOx by noncatalytic or catalytic reactions with N-agents (ammonia or urea). There are several problems with SCR, such as high capital cost, limited catalyst life, catalyst poisoning, and disposal. SNCR is less expensive, but its capabilities are limited by the narrow temperature window of NOx control, ammonia slip, low utilization of N-agents, and formation of N2O with urea injection. Conventional natural gas reburning is currently a mature technology for NOx control. Reburning has been successfully demonstrated at full scale by EER and others on numerous occasions. However, reburning alone provides about 60 percent NOx reduction and cannot achieve the 80 percent required by ozone attainment regulations in certain geographic areas. The proposed project is directed toward improving performance of the reburning process by injection of additives in the reburning zone under specific conditions. The goal of the project is to achieve 80 percent NOx control removal by the promoted reburning process. In a combination with other inexpensive NOx control methods (such as low NOx burners and SNCR), the process will make it possible to reduce NOx by 90+ percent.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Injection of additives requires only minimum capital expense and operating costs are near zero. The process cost in terms of "$/lb of NO removed" will be significantly lower than the cost of conventional reburning since a higher level of NO reduction will be achieved. An increase in NO control from 60 percent to 80 percent will decrease the process cost per pound of NO removed by 25 percent. Thus, the proposed process will both help to protect the environment (higher level of NOx control) and do it for a lower cost than has been possible in the past.

166. Electrosynthesis of Propylene Oxide
Electrosynthesis Co., Inc.
72 Ward Rd.
Lancaster, NY 14086
tel: 716-684-0513; fax: 716-684-0511
Principal Investigator: Dr. J. David Genders
President: Dr. Norman L. Weinberg
NSF Grant No. 9660090; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will study the electrochemical synthesis of propylene oxide. Propylene oxide is a major commodity chemical, ranked 36th on a weight basis for chemicals production in the United States in 1993, with an annual production rate of 3.30 billion lbs per year and a current selling price of $59.5/lb. This proposal describes novel composite electrode structures that are expected to offer a low-cost route to the electrosynthesis of propylene oxide. The primary focus of the proposal will be on the electrochemical epoxidation of propylene to form propylene oxide. The incorporation of specific electrocatalysts into high-surface-area electrodes will be examined. The techniques used are also expected to be of general use in other epoxidation reactions.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Propylene oxide production represents an annual market value of $2 billion in the United States alone. A new low-cost route to propylene oxide and/or propylene glycol would have significant economic benefit. In addition to it effects on the commodity market, an electrochemical route to propylene oxide will also offer a cost-effective method for smaller-scale, on-site manufacturing.

167. Protein Crystals as Novel Materials for Chromatography
Altus Biologics, Inc.
40 Allston St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4211
tel: 617-499-0500; fax: 617-499-2480
e-mail: Margolin@Altus.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Alexey Margolin
President: Mr. Peter Lanciano
NSF Grant No. 9660460; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project deals with the development of a new type of stationary phase for chromatography and simulating moving bed (SMB) technology based on cross-linked protein crystals. Both analytical and preparative scale chromatography are widely used in biosciences, chemistry, polymer science, and nuclear physics and in the petroleum, polymer, food, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. While existing stationary phases can separate a wide variety of compounds, including mixtures of racemates, there are several limitations-such as low loading, eluent limitations, narrow operational conditions, and high cost-that preclude wider applications of chromatography. We believe that some of these limitations can be successfully addressed by using Cross-Linked Enzyme Crystals (CLEC©) or more broadly Cross-Linked Protein Crystals (CLPC). We have already demonstrated that cross-linked protein crystals are very stable, have porous structure, and demonstrate great affinity and chiral selectivity. In addition, they are mechanically stable and can be produced in large quantities. The properties of Altusís protein crystals leads us to believe that these crystals may have excellent performance characteristics as a new porous material and provide unique opportunities in at least three main types of liquid chromatography: size exclusion, affinity, and chiral chromatography. In the Phase I study, we will demonstrate the feasibility of using the five existing CLEC catalysts of lipases from Candida rugosa and Pseudomonas cepacia, subtilisin, thermolysin, and penicillin acylase and a new CLPC derived from serum albumins as stationary phases for liquid chromatography.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The portion of synthetic chiral pharmaceuticals introduced as single enantiomers represents about $15 billion in sales and is expected to reach $150 billion by the end of the century. Chiral stationary phases could play an important role in producing and analyzing many of the final chemicals or intermediates used as optically pure drugs. The high price of bulk CSP currently precludes the wide use of this technology in either preparative chromatography or simulating moving bed (SMB) technology. This situation may dramatically change with the introduction of CSP based on protein crystals.

168. Improved Process for Chiral Resolution of Biotechnologically Important Synthons
LSR Technologies
898 Main St.
Acton, MA 01720
tel: 978-635-0123; fax: 978-635-0058
Principal Investigator: Mark R. Timmins
President: S. Ronald Wysk
NSF Grant No. 9660465; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I proposal addresses a new means to separate chiral molecules useful in the synthesis of biologically active molecules, such as drugs, pesticides, etc. This process should afford a marked decrease in the economics of producing such "synthons" because it allows for simultaneous product resolution, concentration, and purification. There is a trend toward separate regulation of enantiomeric pairs of the chiral molecules found in many modern pharmaceuticals. Because typically only one of the two (or more) enantiomers possesses the desired biological activity, there is an increasing desire to perfect chemical processes that will yield chirally pure products. The enhanced liquid membrane bioreactor proposed herein is designed to meet just such a need. Successful implementation of the proposed process will positively impact the economy by providing a more economical route to commercially significant, optically active chemical building blocks. Cost savings will result not only from the avoidance of the costly certification of inactive enantiomeric impurities, but also by effectively doubling the productivity of every downstream chemical process that was previously performed upon a racemic mixture of compounds. The combination of product resolution, concentration, and purification all into one unit operation offers savings in terms of both processing cost and capital expenses. In addition, the proposed technology is highly versatile, being easily adapted to a variety of biotechnologically significant processes, an advantage relative to a number of other bioreactor technologies.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: More economical routes to purer, biologically active drugs and pesticides are offered by the enhanced liquid membrane bioreactor proposed. Highly value-added products of this sort represent an increasingly large segment of a multibillion dollar market, and current trends in legislation and pharmaceutical development favor the commercialization of such process technologies.

169. Recovery of Platinum Group Metals from Spent Catalysts
Dakota Alpha, Inc.
6118 Greenleaf Ct.
Rapid City, SD 57702
tel: 605-348-7665; fax: 605-348-7680
e-mail: bhughesrc@aol.com
Principal Investigator: William L. Hughes
President: William L. Hughes
NSF Grant No. 9660475; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is concerned with a feasibility study on a newly developed process to recover three platinum group metals, including platinum, palladium and rhodium, and rhenium, from spent catalysts. This process was developed by researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has been proposed. The catalysts to be treated will include spent automobile catalytic converters and petroleum refining catalysts. The technology is based on a hydrometallurgical technique using halogen salts. The process is inherently environmentally benign since the reaction takes place in a completely enclosed autoclave. Furthermore, the chemicals used in the process will be continuously regenerated and recycled, resulting in essentially no liquid or gas disposal. The solid waste (aluminum silicate), which is essentially totally benign, passes the EPA TCLP test with a wide margin, and can either be land filled or used in the manufacture of cement.

In Phase I, the following key factors essential to the success of the new process will be studied: (1) the optimum extraction conditions, (2) solid liquid separation after dissolution, and (3) separation of individual metals after leaching. The results will be directly related to Phase II (continuous pilot tests for handling of 20 kg a day process operation) and Phase III (commercialization for handling of 1-2 ton a day process operation).

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology is designed to be compatible with existing technologies by saving energy by 80 percent and also by being an environmentally benign process. The number of units using this technology operated in the United States by the year 2010 is estimated to be fifty-six and the calculated energy savings by this technology would be over $100 million. The estimated waste savings in the same year is 300 million pounds and the estimated job savings would be over $100 million.

170. Supercritical Fluid Viral Inactivation in a Varying Potential Electrical Field
Aphios Corp.
3 E. Gill St.
Woburn, MA 01801
tel: 781-932-6933; fax: 781-932-6865
e-mail: APHIOS@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Trevor P. Castor
President: Dr. Trevor P. Castor
NSF Grant No. 9660676; Amount: $75,000

The worldwide AIDS epidemic and the recent Ebola outbreak in Zaire have highlighted a persistent concern in the health-care community-the need for effective sterilization techniques for human blood plasma and plasma-derived products. Even with the increased emphasis on screening of donors and testing for pathogens, the risk of transmission of infection by blood and blood products is not zero. These risks are currently estimated to be 1 in 3,000 for hepatitis C (HCV), 1 in 200,000 for Hepatitis B (HBV), and 1 in 225,000 for HIV.

A number of approaches have been employed for the inactivation or removal of viruses in therapeutic proteins derived from human plasma. These techniques are not always effective against a wide spectrum of human and animal viruses, are encumbered by process-specific deficiencies, and often result in denaturation of the biologicals that they are designed to protect. Some of these methods are effective in inactivating enveloped viruses, such as HIV, but none are effective against non-enveloped viruses such as HAV. Aphios has developed a rapid and generally applicable virus inactivation technique for both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses based on supercritical fluid technology. In the proposed effort, we plan to enhance this technique by utilizing a constant, discharging or varying electrical field.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: It is estimated that the worldwide marketplace for human plasma and animal serum products will be $15 to $20 billion by the year 2000. The potential viral inactivation marketplace is estimated to be about 5 percent of this market, approximately $0.75 to $1.0 billion. Combined demand for these therapeutics (fresh frozen plasma, fibrin glue, immunoglobulins) as well as transgenic proteins and recombinant therapeutics from mammalian cell culture will increase marketplace size and demand for cost-efficient and generally applicable virus inactivation technology.

171. Novel, Highly Permeable, and Selective Ceramic Membranes for the Separation of Oxygen from Air
Materials and Systems Research, Inc.
1473 S. Pioneer Rd., Suite B.
Salt Lake City, UT 84104
tel: 801-973-1199; fax: 801-973-4969
e-mail: kfung@materialsys.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Kuan-Zong Fung
President: Dr. Dinesh K. Shetty
NSF Grant No. 9660794; Amount: $74,911

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses novel, high permeability ceramic membranes for oxygen separation from air. High permeation is the result of both novel materials and an enhancement in surface exchange kinetics by more than an order of magnitude using a patented process. This approach has already led to an improvement of over 700 percent in power density (³ 1.2 watts/cm2at 800°C) of solid oxide fuel cells over the state-of-the-art. Highly efficient oxygen ion-conducting membranes for voltage-driven and mixed conducting membranes for pressure-driven systems will be fabricated in the form of thin dense films over porous supports. Their permeation characteristics will be investigated. It is anticipated that the resulting membranes will exhibit at least ten times greater permeability than the best-known oxide perovskites. A preliminary design of an oxygen separator using these ceramic membranes will be made.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential commercial applications of oxygen separation systems based on these ceramic membranes include (1) oxy-gas retrofit in the glass industry, (2) oxygen generators for the medical and chemical industries, (3) preservation by oxygen removal in the food industry, (4) oxidative coupling of methane, and (5) source of pure oxygen for semiconductor industry.

172. An Antimonide Laser-Based Formaldehyde Detector for Combustion Emissions Monitoring
Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco St., Suite E-11
Santa Fe, NM 87505-3987
tel: 505-984-1322; fax: 505-988-9230
e-mail: sws@rt66.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Daniel B. Oh
President: Alan C. Stanton
NSF Grant No. 9660873; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is aimed at research and development of a new formaldehyde detector using recently introduced antimonide-based near-infrared diode lasers operating in the 2-3 micron region. The targeted specifications are a sensitivity of 0.1 part per million and an accuracy of 10 percent (at 1 ppm) for real-time (1 second response time) measurement of formaldehyde in combustor exhaust. This sensor technology is readily adaptable for high-sensitivity measurement of other key combustion pollutants, including CO and NO. As a known carcinogen and contributor to air pollution (especially in urban air), formaldehyde emissions from automotive exhaust are now regulated in California. Formaldehyde emissions from combustors in electric power plants and municipal incinerators are also being targeted for regulation.

In Phase I, the feasibility of the proposed diode laser-based formaldehyde monitor will be demonstrated by constructing a prototype sensor and measuring trace concentrations of formaldehyde in turbulent combustor exhaust. The formaldehyde-detection sensitivity in the combustor exhaust will be determined and the feasibility of commercially developing such a sensor will be evaluated.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Direct commercial applications of the research are expected to include improved instrumentation for real-time measurement of numerous pollutant gases, including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and nitric oxide. Additional applications include toxic gas detection for gases used in semiconductor fabrication.

173. A New Instrument for Surface Characterization
Atom Sciences, Inc.
114 Ridgeway Center
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
tel: 423-483-1113; fax: 423-483-3316
e-mail: xguo@atom-sci.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Kenneth Willey
President: Tom J. Whitaker
NSF Grant No. 9660897; Amount: $74,605

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a unique analytical instrument in which two types of surface analysis-sputter-initiated laser resonance ionization spectroscopy (SIRIS) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS)-can be carried out simultaneously, without sacrificing the performance of either. SIRISí selective laser ionization provides high efficiency and excellent sample utilization with greatly reduced matrix effects and mass interferences - fewer than SIMS or most other mass analysis methods. This leads to high sensitivity in small volumes (e.g., particulates), high dynamic range, and good quantitation for a wide range of elements. The principal drawback is that SIRIS analyzes for only one element at a time. In comparison, the nonselective surface ionization of conventional TOF-SIMS has proven to be extremely useful for multielement characterization. By integrating TOF-SIMS with SIRIS, the combined instrument will enable the best of both technologies: high sensitivity and sample utilization with negligible matrix effects and insignificant interferences for single-element trace analysis, and multielement material characterization from TOF-SIMS.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed instrument has the combined capabilities of SIRIS and TOF-SIMS at a cost close to a stand-alone SIRIS or TOF-SIMS instrument. Because of this, we expect that the SIRIS/TOF-SIMS instrument will become an important component in the next generation of analytical instruments. The combination of capabilities crosscuts applications for TOF-SIMS and dynamic SIMS. There are currently over 300 of these instruments worldwide and it is reasonable to expect 100 instruments more in the next ten years.

174. A Multi-Function Heat Exchanger for Control of Temperature, Moisture, and Air Quality Xetex, Inc.
3530 E. 28th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406
tel: 612-724-3101; fax: 612-721-6303
Principal Investigator: Gerald L. Martin
President: Gerald L. Martin
NSF Grant No. 9660900; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will provide the technology base for a new type of energy recovery system. If successful, the research proposed here will significantly enlarge the opportunities for energy recovery in residential, commercial, and industrial ventilation applications. The proposed system will be used to recover otherwise wasted energy by transferring heat and moisture between the fresh ventilation air stream entering a building and the outgoing exhaust ventilation air. While performing this function, it will suppress the transfer of pollutants that would otherwise ride piggyback atop the transferred moisture and thereby undermine the quality of the ventilation air. Present heat and moisture exchangers permit free transfer of pollutants between the air streams and are, therefore, unsuitable for air-quality-sensitive applications. The current research objective is to obtain a thin, microporous film or selective semi-permeable membrane that will serve as the basis for an innovative, nonpolluting, air-to-air exchanger. The selected material must permit high rates of water vapor transfer between two streams of air, but must prevent the transfer of airborne gaseous pollutants. Promising materials will be both acquired and fabricated, and their permeabilities to water vapor and four representative pollutants will be determined using novel mass transfer experiments.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The results of this research would
provide the basis for a new generation of energy-saving devices that extend the use of energy recovery to applications where pollutant control is critical. A major HVAC manufacturer has expressed an interest in working with Xerex to serve the expanded market provided by this technology.

175. Numerical Simulation of Cavitating Flows Using an Innovative PDF Model for Phase Change
CFD Research Corp.
215 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35805
tel: 256-726-4825; fax: 256-726-4806
e-mail: aks@cfdrc.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Ashok K. Singhal
President: Dr. Ashok K. Singhal
NSF Grant No. 9660930; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop, validate, and demonstrate a cavitation model suitable for multidimensional steady and transient simulations of cavitating flows. The lack of prediction capability for cavitating flows is a critical roadblock in the development of much engineering equipment and many biomedical devices. The proposed model will employ a transport equation for vapor with full account of vapor generation/destruction and turbulent fluctuations in velocity and pressure. The phase change rates will depend on thermodynamic properties of fluid and on the flow characteristics, particularly turbulent pressure fluctuations. The pressure fluctuations will be related to the turbulent kinetic energy of flow. A probability density function (PDF) approach will be used to calculate the local time-mean phase change rates from instantaneous pressure values. This phenomena has been the critical missing link in the past models, and it has the potential of improving both the accuracy and numerical stability of solutions. In the Phase I study, the model will be incorporated in a finite-volume, pressure-based CFD code and applied to three benchmark problems-orifice, venturi, and hydrofoil. Phase II work will include several modifications (e.g., bubble dynamics and velocity slip), extensive validation, and practical application.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The developed cavitation model will enable improved designs of engineering equipment using pumps, propellers, orifices, hydrofoils, and hydrostatic bearings and biomedical devices such as mechanical heart valves. The cavitation model will be useable with various CFD codes. CFDRC will commercialize it in conjunction with its commercial CFD code, CFD-ACE.

176. Improved Materials for Hydrogen-Purification Membranes
Bend Research, Inc.
64550 Research Rd.
Bend, OR 97701-8599
tel: 541-382-4100; fax: 541-382-2713
e-mail: bendresearch@bendres.com
Principal Investigator: Paul F. Bryan
President: Walter C. Babcock
NSF Grant No. 9661081; Amount: $74,986

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses development of new materials for hydrogen-separation membranes.

Hydrogen is one of the highest-volume industrial chemicals, but it is rarely produced at sufficient purity for most applications. Of the commercial technologies for purification and separation of hydrogen (metal membranes, polymeric membranes, amine scrubbing, PSA, and cryogenic distillation), only metal membranes offer the advantages of producing high-purity hydrogen in a single stage, load-following capability, and ease of operation. However, current metal membranes are expensive due to their high palladium content, and are therefore limited to niche markets. An opportunity exists to expand the markets for hydrogen-permeable metal membranes if their cost can be significantly reduced.

The objective of Phase I is to demonstrate that a new group of metal alloys can be designed to deliver high hydrogen permeability at reduced cost via manipulation of the two factors that most strongly govern hydrogen permeability in palladium alloys-the lattice spacing and the favorable donation of electron density to the palladium 4d electron band. Candidate alloys will be fabricated and tested for cost-normalized hydrogen permeability. Phase I is expected to demonstrate the validity of this approach for developing new high-performance, low-cost hydrogen-permeable alloys.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Low-cost, high-performance metal membranes will be practical for a broad range of applications that cannot be economically addressed with current metal membranes. These applications include the heat-treating of metals, production of glass, hydrogenation of edible fats and oils, petroleum refining, olefins and aromatics manufacture, semiconductor manufacture, and the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel.

177. Catalysts for CO Removal During Automobile Cold Start
TDA Research, Inc.
12345 West 52nd Ave.
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-1916
tel: 303-940-2321; fax: 303-422-7763
e-mail: srinivas@tda.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Girish Srinivas
President: Michael Karpuk
NSF Grant No. 9661232; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a novel class of catalysts to remove CO from automobile exhaust during cold start. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas produced by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. CO is a problem in both the outside (ambient) air and in enclosed environments. More than 40 million people, in eighty different cities, live in areas with CO levels that exceed EPA standards. Automobiles are by far the largest outdoor source of CO, and are also major sources of unburned hydrocarbons (HCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Since the advent of automotive emissions regulations in the United States in 1973, the allowable emissions of all three major pollutants have been continually reduced.

Current three-way catalysts are not effective in reducing emissions at temperatures below 200°C (during cold start). One approach is to use an electrically heated catalyst, where the three-way catalyst is electrically heated during cold-start conditions to bring the temperature of the catalyst rapidly up to operating temperature. However, electrically heated catalysts are large energy consumers, heavy, expensive, and inconvenient.

TDA Research has identified a novel class of catalysts that effectively remove CO at temperatures as low as 25°C. In addition to removing the CO, the heat generated during the oxidation of CO to CO2 is used to heat the three-way catalyst faster, leading to hydrocarbon oxidation. In Phase I, TDA will synthesize, characterize, and test the activity of the catalysts for the removal of CO under cold-start conditions. In Phase II, the catalyst will be supported on an inert carrier (ceramic monolith) and tested on a car to determine its efficiency under actual cold-start conditions.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The largest application for an active and stable low-temperature CO oxidation catalyst is in CO removal during automobile cold start, since over 9 million automobiles are sold annually in the United States. The successful development of the catalyst could lead to its use in CO removal in closed environments, CO sensors, and closed-cycle CO2 lasers.

178. Facilitated Transport Organic-Inorganic Membranes for Olefin/Paraffin Separation
CeraMem Corp.
12 Clematis Ave.
Waltham, MA 02154
tel: 781-899-4495; fax: 781-899-6478
Principal Investigator: Wenchang Ji
President: Robert L. Goldsmith
NSF Grant No. 9661267; Amount: $75,000

Separations of olefins and paraffins are some of the most important processes in the petrochemical industry. In concept, these could be performed very efficiently by selective membranes. Limitations on current gas separation processes include low selectivity of polymeric membranes. For immobilized liquid membranes used in gas separation, other limitations include pressure and temperature limits. In most cases, these result in the need to employ large membrane areas, multistage operations, and the cooling of compressed gas mixtures. Wider application of the technology would be impossible if inexpensive gas separation modules with highly selective membranes operable at appreciably higher pressure and temperatures were available. This proposal addresses development of cost-effective, highly selective, high-pressure, and high-temperature gas separation modules by use of low-cost, highly compact ceramic ultrafiltration (UF) modules as gas separation membrane supports. The active separation layer will be a thin ceramic membrane with pore size of 4-10 nm modified with Ag+ or Cu+ and sealed with a PDMS thin film.

During Phase I, novel facilitated transport organic-inorganic membranes will be developed. High selectivity of these membranes for olefin/paraffin separation will be demonstrated. A reservoir method will be employed to modify the top thin membrane of a ceramic module with Ag+ or Cu+. An innovative method will be used to apply a thin PDMS film to the modified ceramic membrane to form a dense separation layer. These membranes will be tested at temperatures ranging from 25 to 200°C for separation of olefin/paraffin mixtures at a laboratory scale.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The novel high-pressure and high-temperature facilitated transport membrane modules to be developed in this program, if successfully scaled up to production-scale ceramic modules (as envisioned for Phase II work), would be a key element in the separation of olefin/paraffin mixtures in the chemical and petrochemical industries. They could also be used to effectively separate carbon monoxide from a synthesis gas.

179. A New Chemically Heated Catalytic Converter to Reduce Cold-Start Emissions in Automobiles
Lynntech, Inc.
7610 Eastmark Dr., Suite 105
College Station, TX 77840
tel: 409-693-0017; fax: 409-764-7479
Principal Investigator: Dr. Rajesh Kukreja
President: Oliver J. Murphy
NSF Grant No. 9661351; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is concerned with a novel chemically heated catalytic converter that will result in ultra-low emissions from vehicles. More than 80 percent of pollutant emissions occur during the first two to three minutes of the engine start. The development of technology for meeting California Air Resources Board (CARB) ultra-low-emission-vehicle (ULEV) regulations has now become a main focus for vehicle manufacturers worldwide. Quick catalyst light-off temperature is a key part of being able to reduce HC and CO emissions. The use of an electrically heated catalytic (EHC) converter has been proposed to alleviate the problem, but the associated cost and weight penalties are prohibitive.

The technical feasibility of a new scheme for heating a catalytic converter was demonstrated through preliminary experiments. The proposed process utilizes energy released from the flameless chemical reaction between certain organic compounds and oxygen from air. This approach, based on chemically heating the catalytic (CHC) converter, offers an economical, energy-efficient, and cleaner way to reduce pollutant emissions during cold start of a vehicle. The proposal aims at developing the CHC converter by optimizing and assessing the effects of design and operating parameters influencing the performance of the catalytic converter. The Phase I research will culminate with a database needed for the design, development, and implementation of CHC converters in automobiles.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed CHC converter will lead to a fundamentally new technology for preheating a catalytic converter and reducing emission levels of automobiles, in order to meet federal and California LEV and ULEV standards. The proposed technology will have a large commercial impact on the automotive industries in America, Europe, and Japan.

180. Solvent-Free Manufacture of Molecular Carbon
NanoTechnologies of Texas, Inc.
5933 Bellaire Blvd., #113
Houston, TX 77081
tel: 713-661-0550; fax: 713-661-5355
e-mail: felipe@ruf.rice.edu
Principal Investigator: L. P. Felipe Chibante
President: James Kiely
NSF Grant No. 9661369; Amount: $74,982

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I proposal explores the viability of solvent-free manufacture of the molecular form of carbon, known collectively as fullerenes. Global fullerene consumption continues to increase as new viable opportunities are being explored and applications become economically feasible such that demand will soon reach ton/year within the next five years. However, manufacturing expertise has lagged considerably, resulting in prices only lowering asymptotically to the limit of about $3,000/kg. This is not a workable option. As part of an innovative design in the manufacturing process, NanoTechnologies of Texas, Inc., proposes to utilize direct, in situ sublimation of molecular fullerenes from the nascent "soot" during continuous on-line production. Important parameters such as temperature gradient, inert gas pressure, and residence time will be evaluated. The evolution of this Phase I project will naturally grow into the Phase II program wherein three further major concepts will be implemented. These advances will lead to more than an order of magnitude decrease in production cost (<$300/kg) in the short term, and will set the precedent for large-scale manufacture.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed Phase I/II program will result in a marked decrease in cost and greatly increased availability and quality of these fundamental materials in the immediate future. The demand continues to grow rapidly and practical applications are within range of the lower anticipated costs.

181. Development of a Volatile Nitrogen-Containing Compound Pollution Abatement Catalyst
Guild Associates, Inc.
5022 Campbell Blvd., Suites J & K
Baltimore, MD 21236
tel: 410-931-2207; fax: 410-931-2208
e-mail: guildinc@clark.net
Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph A. Rossin
President: Salvatore T. DiNovo
NSF Grant No. 9661449; Amount: $73,267

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project investigates the development of a novel catalyst to control the emissions of volatile nitrogen-containing compounds (VNCs) without the generation of chemical NOx. VNCs are both hazardous and odorous, and therefore, their emissions must be controlled. Current technologies used to control VNC emissions result in the generation of significant amounts of NOx due to the atomic nitrogen associated with the VNC. The release of NOx into the atmosphere is a significant problem, since it has been linked to both smog and acid rain. Catalytic oxidation is a technology well suited for controlling vapor-phase emissions. However, no catalyst is commercially available that is capable of destroying VNCs without the formation of NOx.. A novel catalyst was recently identified that has demonstrated the ability to destroy hydrogen cyanide without forming NOx over a wide range of process conditions. The objective of this Phase I proposal is to modify this novel catalyst in order to enhance its reactivity and minimize its N2O selectivity. To meet this objective, developmental catalysts will be evaluated for nitrogen-product selectivity and performance stability over a range of process conditions.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Technologies capable of economically controlling the release of VNCs without the formation of NOx are currently unavailable. Should the novel catalyst prove successful, economical pollution abatement systems may be designed around the catalyst to meet the needs of a wide variety of applications, which include fume abatement and controlling plant fugitive emissions.

182. Heterogeneous Catalyst for Chlorinated Hydrocarbon Remediation
GF Activation Technologies
120 N. Washington St.
Grand Forks, ND 58203-3451
tel: 701-772-1733; fax: 701-772-1733
Principal Investigator: Dr. Curtis L. Knudson
President: Dr. Curtis L. Knudson
NSF Grant No. 9661501; Amount: $74,207

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will determine if a heterogeneous catalyst that will rapidly destroy chlorinated hydrocarbons can be produced from two waste materials. Chlorinated hydrocarbons represent an environmental problem since they are widely used and are spreading throughout our groundwater system. Iron and iron sulfides have been found to destroy chlorinated hydrocarbons. However, present forms tend to be kinetically slow and relatively expensive to use in a barrier system to remediate groundwater.

This effort will determine if an active catalyst can be produced by adding ionic iron by ion exchange into a low-cost feedback (pyrite-rich lignite tailings from a physical cleaning plant) followed by thermal treatment under a reducing gas. The source of ionic iron would be Berkeley Pit water, which is an environmental problem in Montana needing remediation to remove heavy metals. This process should produce a highly dispersed iron-carbon-supported heterogeneous catalyst at lower cost that could be used in groundwater barrier systems to destroy chlorinated hydrocarbons.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology is designed to produce a low-cost, kinetically rapid, high-capacity heterogeneous catalyst for the remediation of chlorinated hydrocarbons. These properties mean that it can be used economically in barrier applications to remediate groundwater.

183. Novel Superglassy Polymer Membranes for Hydrocarbon Separation
Membrane Technology and Research (MTR), Inc.
1360 Willow Rd., Suite 103
Menlo Park, CA 94025-1516
tel: 650-328-2228; fax: 650-328-6580
e-mail: ipin@mtrinc.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Ingo Pinnau
President: Dr. Richard W. Baker
NSF Grant No. 9661545; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project concerns the development of a new class of gas separation membranes based on superglassy polymers. Superglassy polymers are characterized by high glass transition temperatures, high free volume, large intermolecular chain spacing, connectivity of free volume elements, extremely high hydrocarbon permeability, and high hydrocarbon/permanent-gas selectivity. Recently, we discovered that poly(1-trimethylsilyl-1-propyne) [PTMSP], the only superglassy polymer studied to date, showed a mixed-gas selectivity for n-butane over methane of 30, the highest selectivity ever observed for this important mixture. However, the potential use of PTMSP membrane is limited because its chemical resistance to higher hydrocarbons and aromatic hydrocarbons is poor.

The project goal is to develop novel, chemically resistant superglassy polymer membranes based on disubstituted polyacetylenes. Preliminary pure-gas permeation studies with one such polymer show that its permeability and selectivity for the n-butane/methane mixtures separation are lower than those of PTMSP, but high enough to be promising. Unlike PTMSP, the polymer is completely stable in an aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbon environment. We believe that we can increase the permeability and selectivity of the polymer by proper structural modifications.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Membranes made from superglassy polymers could have a significant impact on many important industrial vapor separations. Possible applications include recover of C3+ hydrocarbons from natural gas and removal of hydrocarbons from hydrogen in the petrochemical industry. The superior selectivity and permeability of superglassy polymers relative to state-of-the-art rubbery membranes should make membrane systems competitive with conventional separation methods such as cryogenic separation in these or other applications.

184. Zeolite Membrane Reactors for Enhancement of Dehydrogenation Selectivity
TDA Research, Inc.
12345 West 52nd Ave.
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
tel: 303-940-2334; fax: 303-422-7763
e-mail: caromer@tda.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Cecily Romero
President: Michael Karpuk
NSF Grant No. 9661637; Amount: $75,000

Styrene is currently manufactured by dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene at temperatures of 580-610° C. The reaction is limited by equilibrium and is moderately endothermic. It has long been recognized that a catalytic membrane reactor system could be effective in removing the hydrogen (a product of the reaction) from the reactants, thus shifting the equilibrium toward the styrene product and increasing the styrene yield. Because a large fraction of the cost in styrene production is in the downstream separation of styrene from ethylbenzene and reaction byproducts, an increase in the reaction product purity would significantly reduce the overall cost of the process.

In Phase I, TDA will fabricate dense, crack-free zeolite membranes supported on the interior of a porous alumina support tube. We will demonstrate the increase in styrene production in a packed bed catalytic reactor, packed with a commercial iron oxide catalyst. We will conduct the reaction in a reactor with and without the zeolite membrane to quantify the improvement achieved with the membrane, and carry out an engineering analysis. In Phase II we will optimize the preparation of supported zeolite membranes; carry out a thorough investigation of the effects of temperature, pressure, and steam dilution on mechanical stability and yield improvement, regeneration capability, and aging; and perform an extensive engineering analysis.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The commercialization of a zeolitic molecular sieve membrane reactor to shift the equilibrium of the dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene to styrene towards the products could increase styrene yields, and decrease downstream separation costs in this high-volume production process. This would result in a significant cost savings for the industry.


Topic 23¾Civil Infrastructure Materials, Structures, and Systems Resources

185. A Nondestructive Method for Examining Bridge Foundations
North American Geotechnical Co.
P.O. Box 542211
Houston, TX 77254-2211
tel: 713-935-2899; fax: 713-743-9164
Principal Investigator: Edward J. Mercado
President: Edward J. Mercado
NSF Grant No. 9660071; Amount: $74,842

The primary objective of the project is to develop and refine nondestructive methods by which the lengths and numbers of piles and drilled shafts and the existence of severe structural defects in bridge foundations can be determined through nondestructive and noninvasive seismic survey means. The survey techniques proposed are the shear wave reflection profiling survey (SWRS) method and the ambient vibration survey (AVS) method. A secondary objective will be to determine through field experimentation any limitations that the methods may have. A known limitation is that none of the currently available conventional methods can determine pile widths. After the migration data processing step, it is possible to determine the pile width or shaft diameter and the number of piles in a pile group from the SWRS data. Measuring pile numbers/group, shaft separation, and width/diameter is a function of the horizontal resolution obtainable from the data, which is controlled by the field data acquisition parameters of detector spacing and source peak frequency.

Specifically, we will conduct both shear-wave seismic reflection profiling surveys and ambient vibration surveys, using traffic on the bridge as the exciting force, of bridge foundations along I-45 near the University of Houston in the Houston District of TxDOT as a means of verifying the validity and utility of both methods. We have contacted the Houston District of TxDOT, which has indicated that it will assist us in gaining access to the test sites and to the as-built construction records.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The FHWA estimates that over the next twenty years $164.9 billion must be spent to address the tremendous backlog in bridge rehabiliation and the deficiencies that continue to occur. The benefits of the proposed research would be very significant cost savings in the rehabilitation of bridge foundations by identifying which bridge foundations are safe and which need rehabilitation. The potential for such significant cost savings will make the commercial availability of a survey system a profitable undertaking for both the system supplier and the end user.

186. An In Situ Process Control Device for Asphalt Pavements
Tri-Valley Research
3590 Curchill Ct.
Pleasanton, CA 94588
tel: 510-846-4530; fax: 510-846-3798
e-mail: pearson1@ix.netcom.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert M. Pearson
President: Dr. Robert M. Pearson
NSF Grant No. 9660137; Amount: $74,794

This Small Business Innovative Research Phase I program will demonstrate an in situ process control device, based on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), for the analysis of asphalt pavements used in the highway industry. This proposal is based on the work the principal investigator did under contracts from the Strategic Highway Research Program. That work showed how NMR can be used to measure the physical properties of neat asphalt and the concentration of asphalt in asphalt/aggregate mixes including cores. Tri-Valley Research proposes to extend this technique to the measurement and study of the reaction that occurs between asphalt and aggregate when they are mixed. The study of this reaction plus the development of NMR methods to measure the physical properties of the asphalt in situ in a mix or core will allow us to propose the design and construction of a flat magnet NMR system that will determine the amount and physical condition of asphalt in pavements, in place, on a roadbed. The problems that must be overcome before this ultimate goal can be achieved are discussed and solutions proposed in this Phase I SBIR proposal.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The device developed in this project can be used in a number of closely related applications in the highway industry. The determination of the amount of asphalt in mixes and cores is an application that could require several hundred units in the United States alone. The use of a flat magnet system for in situ analysis of asphalt in pavement could have a profound impact on pavement maintenance.

187. Thermal Spray Coatings to Prevent Corrosion on Steel Pilings
DACCO SCI, Inc.
10260 Old Columbia Rd.
Columbia, MD 21046
tel: 410-381-9475; fax: 410-381-9643
e-mail: GDDACCOSCI@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Guy D. Davis
President: Dr. Chester M. Dacres
NSF Grant No. 9660193; Amount: $74,989.88

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop and test thermal spray coating systems to eliminate corrosion of steel pilings, which has been reported as high as 1.5 percent per year. It is anticipated that a metal/polymer duplex coating will be "damage tolerant" and provide corrosion protection superior to that of simple coating so that corrosion of pilings will be reduced to negligible levels. Thus, the high costs and liability of piling failure can be avoided.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The coating systems and coating design methodology developed for steel pilings will also be suitable for other applications, including highways and bridges, pipelines, underground and aboveground storage tanks, ships, and reaction vessels. The commercial applications are very broad.

188. Probabilistic Assessment for Embedded/Underground Hazardous Facilities Subjected to Dynamic Loads Induced by Extreme Environmental Events

Stevenson & Associates, Inc.
9217 Midwest Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44125
tel: 216-587-3805; fax: 216-587-2205
e-mail: Stevensoncle@delphi.com
Principal Investigator: Dan M. Ghiocel
President: Walter Djordjevic
NSF Grant No. 9660321; Amount: $75,000

The research will develop an applied technology that can be utilized by design engineers to perform risk and reliability assessments for hazardous facilities. The proposed research is focused on dynamic soil-structure interaction, a complex phenomenon with large randomness and modeling uncertainties. Most hazardous facilities include heavy and stiff concrete structures, partially embedded, embedded, or even buried; knowing their soil-structure interaction effects is essential for accurate predictions of their structural behavior under dynamic loads. Emphasis will be given to risk, reliability, and environmental hazard associated with external blasts, explosions, and earthquakes. Probabilistic models will include uncertainties stemming from randomness and incomplete knowledge related to load parameters, soil properties and soil-structure interaction effects. Advanced stochastic finite element techniques will ensure the suitability of the resulting algorithms for the tasks at hand. The proposed probabilistic algorithms will be implemented in the state-of-the-art commercial computer code SUPER SASSI developed by Stevenson & Associates based on the original SASSI code of the University of California, Berkeley. This will enhance its advanced dynamic soil-structure interaction capability with probabilistic and risk assessment capabilities for decision-making support. For evaluating the external explosion pressure effects, the program BLAST, developed in-house by Stevenson & Associates, will be used.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The reassessment of existing massive commercial and defense hazardous facilities remains a significant engineering challenge with high priority for the U.S. State Department. The proposed research will develop an accurate probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) engineering tool for embedded/buried hazardous facilities under dynamic loads induced by environmental extreme events including soil-structure interaction. The existence of a probabilistic computational tool will expedite these analyses and will drastically reduce the high costs of PRA studies. Rapid commercialization of the new development for a large number of civil engineering applications is expected.

189. Synthesis of Carbon Nitride Thin Films
Physical Sciences, Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810-1077
tel: 508-689-0003; fax: 508-689-3232
e-mail: gelb@psicorp.com
Principal Investigator: Alan H. Gelb
President: George E. Caledonia
NSF Grant No. 9660390; Amount: $74,998

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to develop a new technique for the growth of carbon nitride thin films. The proposed technique is based on the reaction of high velocity (3 to 8 km/s) carbon/nitrogen atom beams with surfaces.

Carbon nitride is predicted to be a material with tribological and electronic applications and hence significant effort has been devoted to its synthesis. These efforts have met with limited success. A recent advance is the synthesis using a dual atomic beam source of a pure C2N phase having diamondlike carbon properties.

PSI proposes a single atomic beam synthesis at energies between 1 and 10 eV. This energy range can lead to higher reactivity without amorphorization and can be commercially applicable.

In Phase I, an atomic beam containing carbon and nitrogen atoms will be generated, characterized, and used to deposit thin films on silicon substrates. The thin films will be analyzed for composition and bonding. The deposition of films with extended solid bonding and high nitrogen content will verify our growth technique.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The development of a technique for carbon nitride thin film growth can have tribological and possibly electronic application. The developed atom technique can also be used for the growth of other technologically important nitride materials.

190. Application of Hybrid Foil-Magnetic Bearings for High Speed Turbomachinery
C&B Engineering Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 2384
Akron, OH 44309
tel: 330-375-1628; fax: 330-375-1627
Principal Investigator: V. Polyshchuk
President: V. Polyshchuk
NSF Grant No. 9660520; Amount: $75,000

A new type of "hybrid foil-magnetic bearing" with its associated control systems is proposed here. The concept is based on the combination of the technology of the magnetic bearing with that of the foil bearing, the latter acting in an auxiliary or enhancement role. Actuators incorporated in the foil bearing will allow active control of the foil to (1) retract during normal magnetic bearing operation, (2) increase the load capacity of the entire support system during operational transients or peak-load situations, (3) assist the magnetic bearing in passing through rotor-critical speeds during start-up and coast-down while still maintaining small clearances, (4) act as a stand-alone during magnetic bearing failure, and (5) lock up the shaft to avoid damage to the magnetic bearing when the system is not powered.

Other innovative features of this proposed work are (1) the use of either gas (e.g., air) or liquid fuel as a bearing lubricant, (2) the use of similar control action in both the magnetic and foil bearings, (3) the use of piezoelectric actuators for high bandwidth control of the motion of the foil.

Phase I of the proposed work will be a feasibility study using both numerical simulation and experimental testing on the existing components. A test rig will be constructed and run for the testing and verification of the concept. The deliverables of this phase will be (1) a reliable simulation and design algorithm, (2) experimental knowledge base regarding the operation of the foil and magnetic bearings in tandem, as well as individually, (3) the design of a pre-prototype, for experimentation in Phase II, and (4) the initiation of strategic alliances with industrial partners.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: During the Phase II partnership with industrial manufacturers and end users, we believe that the hybrid bearings will immediately find wide market applications in jet engines, compressors, turbopumps, and other rotating machinery. In addition to its capability of reducing power loss and wear, the hybrid bearing also has excellent potential for supporting systems that experience repeated extreme transient loadings.

191. A New Approach to Local Area Damage Detection in Composite Structures
NeuroDyne, Inc.
One Kendall Sq.
Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 540-955-9912; fax: 540-955-9917
e-mail: sofge@ai.mit.edu
Principal Investigator: Donald A. Sofge
President: Theresa W. Long
NSF Grant No. 9660606; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a new approach to detection and classification of damage to a structural composite part, thus providing a means for sensing structural degradation such as delaminations, fatigue, and other damage. Piezoelectric transducer technology provides a means for sensing various structural properties such as stress, strain, and elasticity when these sensors are mounted on, or embedded within, a material structure. Structures may degrade due to improper manufacture, duty cycle wear, impacts, and material corrosion. Embedded sensors may be used to signal changes, likely to be damage, to a structural composite part and permit off-line diagnosis independent of the long-range geometry of the part, so that the diagnostic instrument need not have records for individual parts. This project uses high-frequency acoustic signals to diagnose damage, calibrating for local properties (density, thickness, stiffness). Standard acoustic test pulses from the piezoelectric devices can be used to probe for damage located between pulse generators and sensors. By using only the leading portion of the received signal, it is possible to avoid the effects of geometry-dependent reverberation. This greatly simplifies the interpretation of changes in the response as clues to structural degradation.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The advanced structural monitoring concepts being sought have potential for commercial use in the civil transportation industry for aircraft, automobiles, trucks, and boats, and in the commercial space industry for boosters and satellites. Other application areas include the use of structural composites in load-bearing bridges, composite railroad cars, and numerous other areas where lightweight, high-strength structural composites are replacing heavy metallic structures.

192. Intelligent Prevention and Information System for Earthquake-Induced Fires (IPIS-EF)
InfraTech, Inc.
13429 Fairland Park Dr.
Silver Spring, MD 20904
tel: 301-384-1758; fax: 301-384-9027
e-mail: gzchi@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Gui-Zhong Qi
President: Gui-Zhong Qi
NSF Grant No. 9660708; Amount: $74,975

Earthquake hazards are serious threats and have caused heavy damage and casualties. In addition to the shaking, the fire following an earthquake is a major cause for loss of lives and property. An earthquake has the potential for initiating a chain of events that can turn a moderately damaging seismic event into a holocaust of disasters. Therefore, research and development on the prevention, control, and rapid extinguishing of earthquake-induced fires in urban regions is extremely important in earthquake hazard mitigation. The objective of this proposed project is to develop an Intelligent Prevention and Information System for Earthquake-Induced Urban Fires (IPIS-EF). IPIS-EF consists of three components:

  1. Automatic Shut-Down System (ASDS) for gas and electric power lines to prevent fires following earthquakes;

  2. Advanced Tele-Communication System (ATCS) for prompt and accurate reporting of fires. Recent advances in sensoring and telecommunication technologies have created the possibility of transmitting information from sensors via satellite to an emergency response center almost instantaneously;

  3. Intelligent Expert System for Signal Process (IESP). Whereas the ATCS component will provide for prompt and accurate reporting of fires following a strong earthquake, the IESP component will evaluate and interpret fire signals properly using modern signal processing techniques.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential commercial applications of IPIS-EF are numerous. For example, the users of the system will include agencies responsible for safety at all levels of government, and heavy equipment factories and industrial plants. IPIS-EF can also be used for prevention and extinguishing of conventional, nonseismic-induced fires. It can also be exported worldwide to earthquake-prone countries. The commercialization of IPIS-EF can not only boost the competitiveness of American business, but also save lives and properties in both seismic and nonseismic regions.

193. Commercialization of a Mechanical Testing Instrument with In Situ Surface Analysis
Microsystems of Buckhannon, Inc.
14 E. Lincoln St.
Buckhannon, WV 26201
tel: 304-472-7206; fax: 304-472-9638
e-mail: LWILSON@MSYS.NET
Principal Investigator: Dr. Lane Wilson
President: I. B. Browning
NSF Grant No. 9660789; Amount: $73,668

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a compact physical design and integrated control system to commercialize a recently developed high-temperature mechanical testing instrument equipped with an in situ surface analysis capability. The base structure of the instrument consists of an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) chamber that combines mechanical tensile testing and high-temperature heating with careful control of the gas-phase environment. In situ analysis is added to the mechanical testing in the form of Moire-interferometry (measuring solid mechanics full field surface deformations), and scanning electron microscopy with spectroscopic chemical mapping (measuring microstructural morphology and chemical transformations). The integrated instrument provides detailed in situ experimental information applicable to both continuum mechanics modeling and microstructural materials science investigations of material systems exposed to harsh high temperature and reactive gas environmental conditions. The scope of Phase I research, initiation of commercialization of the instrument, will be to improve the mechanical and optical design for smaller size, greater affordability, and increased performance. The control of the various analytical components will also be integrated to enhance real-time data interaction and remove redundancies in the control electronics.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The mechanical testing system with in situ surface analysis is attractive to researchers studying high-performance alloy systems with attention to both their solid mechanics and microscopic behavior in extreme environments of high temperatures and reactive gases. The commercialized instrument will be of use in materials science and engineering R&D laboratories and in commercial materials-testing facilities.

194. Enhanced Airborne Beam-Steering for Ground Probing Radar
ChT Engineering Systems
HC89-69, P.O. Box 228
Hermosa, SD 57744-0228
tel: 605-255-4410; fax: 605-255-4390
e-mail: scott@hills.net
Principal Investigator: Scott R. Thompson
President: Neil F. Chamberlain
NSF Grant No. 9660920; Amount: $73,539

This Small Business Innovation Research project proposes applying recent advances in ground probing radar (GPR) technology to the aerial reconnaissance of underground facilities (UGF). Ground probing radar is a proven technology for investigating subsurface targets and structures. Its application to subsurface monitoring from airborne platforms, however, has been limited due to clutter and signal strength problems. This project promises to overcome these problems by the use of a beam-steered antenna array that provides increased signal power and increased angular resolution. The proposed system will ultimately be suspended from an airborne platform to facilitate rapid coverage of a region of interest (ROI). The narrow transmit array beam scans the ROI, and at the correct angle of incidence a strong reflection from the UGF is received.

The Phase I project comprises three main tasks: first, simulating the proposed system; second, using the results of simulations to refine existing array control algorithms; third, testing the hardware prototype. A large part of the effort lies in software development in simulations and algorithm refinement. The results of Phase I will be used to develop and test a commercially marketable GPR system during the Phase II effort. The proposed technology will make airborne detection of near-surface UGFs in realistic environments feasible.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed system is designed to enhance existing commercial GPR systems and will greatly reduce the cost of data acquisition of areal targets while enhancing data quality. The dynamic monitoring aspect of the instrumentation is unique and has application from the standpoint of characterizing extensive hazardous-waste sites numbering in the thousands across the United States. This option will provide a low-cost alternative to invasive monitoring techniques.

195. Design of a New Advanced Composite Material System
E. T. Techtonics, Inc.
213 Monroe St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
tel: 215-925-8237; fax: 215-925-8237
e-mail: rjohansn@aol.com
Principal Investigator: G. Eric Johansen
President: G. Eric Johansen
NSF Grant No. 9660944; Amount: $75,000

The objective of this proposed project is to develop and market a long-span, advanced composite material (ACM) structural system for immediate use in pedestrian and vehicle bridge and building applications. To achieve this long-span system, E.T. Techtonics, Inc., proposes to assemble a state-of-the-art pultrusion process, including use of resin-injection/air-evacuation equipment and CNC machining. E.T. Techtonics, Inc., proposes to incorporate carbon and aramid fibers into the E-glass matrix to increase strength and stiffness of the advanced composite material. Custom profiles will be designed using this new material. A successful Phase I effort will lead to full-scale testing in Phase II of this new building system.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications will include long-span pedestrian and vehicle bridges, long-span building components for roofs and canopy-type applications, and long-span industrial support structures.

196. Damage Models for Metallic and Composite Structures
Knowledge Systems, Inc.
81 East Main St.
Forsyth, GA 31029
tel: 912-994-4051; fax: 912-994-4051
e-mail: ksi@mylink.net
Principal Investigator: Daniel S. Pipkins
President: Revati Atluri
NSF Grant No. 9661009; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will develop damage models applicable to composite and metallic structures. These models will be implemented in a finite element-based software package. The types of damage considered include single and multiple skin cracks, delaminations, and penetration holes. Particular emphasis is placed on developing damage models applicable to S/RFI composites.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Industries that must design and maintain damage-tolerant structures made of metallic and composite materials are expected to use this software package.

197. Impedance-Based Remote NDI of Critical Structural Components
Garman Systems, Inc.
309 Williamson Square
Franklin, TN 37064
tel: 615-595-6610; fax: 615-595-6665
e-mail: garsys@ix.netcom.com
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Paine
President: Jeffrey Paine
NSF Grant No. 9661381; Amount: $75,000

Proposed is a nondestructive inspection (NDI) method for remote diagnostics of critical structural components such as mechanical fasteners (bolts, welds, rivets, etc.) or advanced materials (composites). Utilizing an impedance-based approach, it is possible to identify damage in critical structural components or advanced materials by periodic remote inspection without removing the structural component or making costly visual inspection. By attaching small piezoceramic transducer materials (such as PZT wafers) to the components of interest, damage can be detected by changes in the structural impedance. Impedance monitoring is especially facilitated by the use of the PZT wafers that can simultaneously activate and sense structural response. PZT wafers respond mechanically to electric signals, producing a small deformation in themselves and the structure to which they are attached (host structure). The electrical impedance (voltage/current) of the PZT wafer therefore has a direct correlation to the mechanical impedance of the component. Should the componentís mechanical impedance change from damage or variations of the properties, the periodic remote inspection of the PZT electrical impedance will manifest the variation.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The impedance method for remote NDI of critical structural components will have value as an inexpensive and labor-saving inspection method for critical bolts and other fasteners in aerospace and civil infrastructure applications. A family of fasteners for off-the-shelf application in such structures will also be developed with the NDI sensors in place to provide a means for designers to include readily inspectable parts in structural designs.

198. The Use of Doppler Radar for Estimating the Aerial Extent of Strong Winds in Thunderstorms
Applied Research Associates, Inc.
811 Spring Forest Rd., Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27609-9199
tel: 919-876-0018; fax: 919-878-3672
e-mail: vickery@sed.ara.com
Principal Investigator: Peter J. Vickery
President: Jimmie L. Bratton
NSF Grant No. 9661447; Amount: $74,995

Other than hurricanes and tornadoes, thunderstorms are the largest producer of direct wind damage in the United States and dominate the extreme wind climate over much of the country. These locally intense storms have complicated structures with significant changes in the surface wind speeds and directions within the storms. As the storms move across the country they can cause widespread damage. The current state of the art in the climatological modeling of the storms involves the use of the relatively sparse network of surface anemometer records of wind speeds produced by thunderstorms. This sparse network of wind-speed measurements does not allow modeling of the total area affected by the damaging winds. The research proposed here is directed at developing a new technique to model the area affected by strong thunderstorm winds using the newly available NEXRAD Doppler data. The method will model the thunderstorm gust fronts and regions of intense local winds using separate and distinct methods. Our approach will couple surface-level anemometer measurements and NEXRAD data to develop a technique to estimate surface-level wind speeds given NEXRAD data. The approach described in the proposal is unique, and if successful will yield the only model able to estimate the total wind-induced damage produced by these storms.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential areas of commercialization for an aerial thunderstorm model are primarily in the insurance and electric power utility fields. Both of these industries are interested in risk management, and reducing and estimating the potential for reducing losses. The integration of the thunderstorm model with wind-damage models already developed by ARA will lead to unique products that will be marketed to the above two industries.

199. Pulsed-Waterjet Soil Densification
Waterjet Technology, Inc.
21414 68th Ave. South
Kent, WA 98032
tel: 253-872-1278; fax: 253-872-0690
e-mail: daves@waterjet-tech.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jack J. Kolle
President: Dr. Y.H. Michael Pao
NSF Grant No. 9661688; Amount: $74,915

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will evaluate the feasibility of pulsed-waterjet soil densification to mitigate against earthquake liquefaction. Present methods to prevent liquefaction include various types of ground modification techniques that are generally high in cost. The objective of the proposed work is to determine operating parameters required for deep compaction using pulsed waterjets and to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this approach in comparison with existing methods. A model of pulsed-waterjet soil densification will be developed based on the test results and a theoretical examination of densification mechanisms. The model will be used to estimate the time and equipment required for ground compaction as a function of soil type and depth. A comparison of the costs of the proposed technique with conventional ground compaction will be prepared as the basis for a full-scale demonstration.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Thousands of square miles of prime industrial-zoned land in the United States lies unused because of poor soil foundations while the construction of industrial facilities on reclaimed coastal land is becoming more common as port and waterfront areas become more congested. With billions of dollars in liquefaction-related damage during recent earthquakes in California and Japan, developers and others are looking for new ways to improve the performance of soils and structures under seismic conditions. If proven feasible and cost effective, the proposed technique will have immediate application for new construction on loose soils and dredged fill worldwide.

200. Surfactant-Enhanced Subsurface Remediation at a Petroleum Hydrocarbon Impacted Site
Trust Environmental Services
2227 W. Lindsey, Suite 1500
Norman, OK 73069
tel: 405-360-2600; fax: 405-360-4577
Principal Investigator: Leon Chen, Ph.D.
President: Phillip Michael Horn
NSF Grant No. 9661730; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is focused on enhancing performance of soil and groundwater remediation systems at petroleum hydrocarbon impacted sites. Presently accepted remediation technologies are ineffective, time consuming, and expensive. As a result, the cost and resources needed to remediate impacted underground storage tank (UST) sites are prohibitive. Surfactant-enhanced subsurface remediation is proposed as an alternative remediation technology.

The goal of this research is to demonstrate the effectiveness of surfactant-enhanced remediation technology and the technical feasibility of a pilot-scale field application. An economic analysis will be conducted and compared to existing technology.

Surfactants can increase the solubility and mobility of organic chemicals trapped in the subsurface, resulting in significantly increased removal efficiencies and reduced costs. Although a number of laboratory studies and a few field studies have investigated surfactant-enhanced remediation, a comprehensive field application has not yet been attempted.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Future utilization of this technology could result in millions of dollars saved on remediation costs and in significant revenues for the companies employing it. The proposed research addresses "Pollution Minimization and Remediation," which is a critical technology area of national importance identified in the SBIR program solicitation.


Topic 24¾Bioengineering and Environmental Systems-
Ocean Systems Resources

201. An Integrated Sensor System for Autonomous Monitoring of Carbon Dioxide Exchange and Transport at the Air-Sea Interface
Physical Optics Corp.
Research and Development Div.
20600 Gramercy Pl., Suite 103
Torrance, CA 90501
tel: 310-320-3088; fax: 310-320-4667
Principal Investigator: Kisholoy Goswami, Ph.D.
President: Joanna Jannson, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660049; Amount: $74,987

Carbon dioxide is a major end product of fossil fuel combustion and many other energy-related terrestrial activities. It is also an important pollutant. How CO2 is assimilated and transformed by terrestrial and marine ecosystems is unclear, but it is known that the worldís oceans are the single largest sink for atmospheric CO2. It is very important to monitor CO2-related processes and parameters, because the results of such monitoring are critical to chemical oceanography, to atmospheric science, to marine biology, and to the direction of future energy policies. Physical Optics Corp. (POC) proposes a completely integrated sensor system for long-term (at least a year) autonomous buoy-based monitoring of CO2 transport and exchange at the air-sea interface. This fixed/flowing fiber-optic chemical sensor (F3OCS) system employs a miniaturized buffer flow coupled to a dual fiber-optic optrode. CO2 is sensed using a pH-sensitive indicator such as meta cresol purple. Dissolution of CO2 leads to reversible modulation of the buffer pH. The pH indicator is permanently entrapped in porous polymer spheres. A replenishable buffer solution eliminates the irreversible changes that have previously prevented the realization of long-lived CO2 optrodes.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This sensor system will significantly advance chemical oceanography, marine biology, atmospheric science, and ecosystem science. In addition to marine-based monitoring, the instrument could be used in such terrestrial aquatic ecosystems as lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, and in water quality and general environmental applications. Other applications include monitoring at sewer/wastewater discharge points, sewage treatment plants, and fish hatcheries.

202. Electroplated Iridium Oxide Coatings for Functional Electrical Stimulation
EIC Laboratories, Inc.
111 Downey St.
Norwood, MA 02062
tel: 617-769-9450; fax: 617-551-0283
Principal Investigator: Urszula M. Twardoch, Ph.D.
President: A. C. Makrides, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660054; Amount: $75,000

Iridium oxide is becoming the material of choice for electrodes in functional electrical stimulation (FES) because of its corrosion resistance, low impedance, and high charge injection capacity. Use of Ir metal electrodes that can be anodized, however, is not always possible. Alternative deposition methods of Ir oxide films, such as sputtering or thermal decomposition of Ir precursors, are unacceptable for many of the complex and thermally sensitive devices such as cochlear implants and neural cuffs. The objective of this research is to develop a process for electrodepositing Ir oxide at temperatures below 100°C to produce conformal coatings. Manufactured electrodes for a variety of FES applications can be "retrofitted" with the coatings, or the coating procedure can be integrated into the production process.

The Phase I program will investigate both electroplating of thin, nonporous Ir followed by anodic "activation" and direct deposition of Ir oxide. Advanced tools for optimizing electrodeposition protocols will be employed, including computer-controlled potentiostatic waveforms and the electrochemical quartz crystal nanobalance. The physical properties of the coatings will be evaluated as well as their suitability as stimulating electrodes. The methods producing the best quality films will be used in Phase II to coat electrodes currently used in FES research and commercial products.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: (1) Commercial medical electrodes for neural prosthesis for treatment of functional impairment such as hearing loss, incontinence, sexual dysfunction, limb paralysis, and spasticity, and (2) equipment for coating electrodes.

203. A Fiber-Optics Linked Marine Coast Observer and Monitor
Owen Research, Inc.
2525 Arapahoe Ave., Suite E4-262
Boulder, CO 80302-6720
tel: 303-530-1248; fax: 303-530-1067
e-mail: bobowen@owen.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert B. Owen
President: Dr. Robert B. Owen
NSF Grant No. 9660079; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project demonstrates the feasibility of a proposed coastal ocean processes sensor (COPS) array of fiber-optics linked sensors. COPS uses video holography and wavelet-transform optical correlation to record and analyze ocean particulates.

Detailed characterization of particulates is central to understanding the subsea environment. COPS measures particulates at a variety of scattered sites with a collection of holographic sensors linked to a central data processing unit on shore. The research objective is to build a test a breadboard COPS sensor and fiber links. Each COPS sensor records a three-dimensional field of particulates for wavelet analysis and classification.

This is a hardware design and development project. By the end of Phase I there will be a detailed COPS design. Workers will record video holograms of particulates through fibers to show hardware feasibility. They will use wavelet processing to analyze mass and fluid transport and show software feasibility. Phase II includes sea trials.

OPS integrates a number of small, rugged sensors. Once COPS is deployed, one can add sensors. Each sensor can be relocated within the reach of its fiber link.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include studies of marine aggregate particle dynamics; this involves biological processes and mechanisms, as well as the chemical/physical processes that affect aggregation. Other applications include environmental surveying, aquaculture, ocean waste disposal monitoring, engineering turbidity, mine tailing monitoring, and underwater lidar. Government applications include a variety of naval coastal sensors.

204. A Novel Water Treatment Method
Ion Physics Corp.
11 Industrial Way
Atkinson, NH 03811
tel: 603-893-6687; fax: 603-893-6729
Principal Investigator: Helmut I. Milde
President: Helmut I. Milde
NSF Grant No. 9660411; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate a new method for disinfection of water supplies, particularly with respect to the pathogen cryptosporidium parvum. This microbe is not adequately controlled by conventional treatment procedures (e.g., chlorination and filtration). The proposed method does not require the addition of chemicals, or of any substance. It does not utilize radiation-such as UV or X-rays-electrical discharges, or high-energy particle beams. The process is very fast and its action is confined to a small processing chamber, which is inside a segment of pipe. The Phase I work will develop a suitable apparatus for experiments with a continuous, flowing stream of water, and will apply this apparatus to water inoculated with oocysts of cryptosporidium parvum. There will be a preliminary investigation of the effect of process parameters. Using results obtained in this work, the practical potential for this method will be evaluated and compared to alternative methods. It is anticipated that the Phase I work will demonstrate its cost-effectiveness and the capability to reduce microbe populations by a factor of 1,000 or more.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: A broad range of applications is possible, including disinfection of drinking water supplies, beverages and other liquid foods; control of yeasts and bacteria in brewing and winemaking; and control of microbes in wastewater and other effluents.

205. Remediation of Pesticide-Contaminated Soil with Sub-Critical Water
Western Environmental Services & Technology, Inc.
4110 Cottonwood
Grand Forks, ND 58201
tel: 701-772-6816
e-mail: gmayer@eerc.und.nodak.edu
Principal Investigator: Gale G. Mayer
President: Gale G. Mayer
NSF Grant No. 9660415; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program will test a novel method for removing pesticides from contaminated soils. Current methods for handling pesticide-contaminated soils include disposal in hazardous landfills, which because of volume can be costly, and land farming, which may impact future land use due to incompatible mixtures and/or high concentrations of pesticides. Western Environmental Services & Technology, Inc. (WEST) is proposing the use of "sub-critical" water to extract pesticides from soil. Water can be changed from a highly polar to non-polar solvent by simply increasing temperature under a few bar of pressure. While steam and supercritical water (T>374°C and P>221 bar) have been studied, hot liquid-phase water ("sub-critical" water) has received very little attention as a solvent for organic compounds. By heating water under low pressure (to maintain a liquid state), solubilities of non-polar organics can be dramatically increased. In preliminary laboratory studies, it has been demonstrated that sub-critical water can be used as an analytical technique for extracting polar as well as non-polar organics from a variety of solid matrices. WEST will demonstrate the concept of sub-critical water extraction of pesticides on actual samples of contaminated soil.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Pesticide contaminants are widespread, with attention only recently being given to them. This proposed technology has the potential to provide a cost-effective and environmentally acceptable method for remediating contaminated soils.

206. Solvent Production from CO, CO2 and H2 in Waste and Synthesis Gases
Bioengineering Resources, Inc.
1650 Emmaus Rd.
Fayetteville, AR 72701
tel: 501-521-2745; fax: 501-521-2749
e-mail: adamsclaus@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. G.K. Chen
President: Dr. J. L. Gaddy
NSF Grant No. 9660741; Amount: $75,000

The Clean Air Act of 1990 is significantly restricting the use of many industrial solvents. The emphasis thus shifts to the production of environmentally benign or "green solvents," which may be synthesized from current petrochemical sources or derived from renewable resources. Solvents may be produced biologically from the components of synthesis and waste gases. Preliminary studies in the BRI laboratories have resulted in the identification of bacteria that produce butanediol and n-butanol from CO and H2. The purpose of this Phase I project is to obtain CO-utilizing bacteria from natural sources capable of producing solvents from CO, CO2 and H2. The study will focus on bacterial cultures that produce individual ketones or diols, but will include alcohols, such as isopropanol or isobutanol, if superior cultures for alcohol production are found. Isolates from natural inocula will then be developed for the ability to produce ketones and diols. The best organisms will be studied in continuous culture to define reaction kinetics. The design and economics of a commercial facility will be projected to determine technical and economic feasibility. The Phase II effort will seek to optimize the biological process by performing advanced culture screening, reactor, and process analysis studies.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: "Green solvents" are being emphasized as replacements for many environmentally unfriendly solvents currently used in industry. This proposal seeks to develop technology for the production of "green solvents" from waste gases or from MSW by gasification and fermentation. If successful, this technology could help to alleviate the problem of MSW disposal while, at the same time, producing industrial solvents such as butanediol and n-butanol. Solvent demand and environmental pressures should help to ensure commercialization of this technology.

207. A Novel System for the Expression of Integral Membrane Proteins Using Halobacterium Halobium
HaloGenetics, Inc.
6 University Dr., Suite 140
Amherst, MA 01004-6000
tel: 413-256-0760; fax: 413-256-0760
e-mail: Halladay@microbio.umass.edu
Principal Investigator: Dr. John Halladay
President: Dr. James Theroux
NSF Grant No. 9660815; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will evaluate a novel method for the production of integral membrane proteins using the halophilic archeon Halobacterium halobium. Two key requirements for biochemical analysis of proteins involved in complex cellular processes are their production in quantity and their amenability to simple and rapid isolation. To circumvent limitations frequently encountered in native systems where insufficient amounts of protein are produced, recombinant DNA technology has been developed and used to produce soluble proteins in a variety of heterologous expression systems. However, in general, these systems are not very efficient in expressing heterologous membrane proteins. Thus, a reliable heterologous production system for this class of proteins is needed. We will construct the appropriate plasmid vectors and evaluate the usefulness of an H. halobium-based membrane protein expression system.

Several attributes of H. halobium indicate it will be an ideal system for production of membrane proteins. First, tools necessary for the routine introduction, maintenance, and expression of foreign DNA have already been developed for this organism. These include both a reliable transformation system for the introduction of DNA molecules, as well as plasmid vectors that can easily be modified and utilized as expression vectors. Second, H. halobium naturally produces very large amounts of bacteriorhodopsin, an integral membrane protein that is very similar in structure to the G-protein dependent receptor family-a major class of membrane proteins. H. halobium has a third advantage. It is readily lysed by gentle, gradual dilution with distilled water or buffers to release the expressed proteins. In contrast, other recombinant systems inherently require denaturing conditions such as sonication, manual disruption, or the use of detergents to release expressed proteins.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed technology, combined with the low costs associated with growing H. halobium and its easy lysis, will allow the cheap and simple production of integral membrane proteins in quantity. This is of intensive interest to researchers in both academic and applied disciplines. The purified proteins resulting from the use of this system will be used in drug discovery and development processes, diagnostic test kits, and therapeutic applications. While precise figures are not available, the value of this technology is considered to be significant.

208. Unique Biomaterial for Long-Term Culturing of Hematopoietic Stem Cells In Vitro
Cytomatrix, LLC
100 Inman St., Suite 104
Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 617-499-0019; fax: 617-499-0040
Principal Investigator: Mark J. Pykett, V.M.D., Ph.D.
President: Richard B. Kaplan
NSF Grant No. 9661006; Amount: $75,000

In this Phase I project, Cytomatrix proposes to examine the ability of a unique three-dimensional biomaterial, CellfoamÔ, to support the long-term culturing of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in vitro. The ability to culture stem cells in vitro over prolonged periods is paramount to many areas of basic research and clinical medicine, yet current culture systems have proven ineffective in sustaining HSCs for extended periods, perhaps because traditional monolayer cultures lack the natural three-dimensional topography found in vivo. Thus, there is urgent need for the development of novel culture systems capable of sustaining HSCs. Preliminary results have shown that Cellfoam is capable of enhancing short-term stem cell survival in vitro compared to conventional systems without compromising HSC survival or pluripotency. This project will evaluate the ability of Cellfoam to sustain HSCs in vitro over extended periods and will assess the impact of long-term culture on stem cell biology. Specifically, the survival, phenotype, and multipotency of HSCs cultured for six weeks in Cellfoam will be measured and compared to conventional systems. Based on previous successes with short-term Cellfoam cultures, it is anticipated that Cellfoam will improve the long-term maintenance of stem cell viability. The Phase I research results will be instrumental in developing advanced culture systems for the maintenance and manipulation of HSCs. These systems will enable, for the first time, the maintenance, analysis, and manipulation of hematopoietic stem cells over extended periods.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed research will aid in the development of CellfoamÔ systems for the long-term culture of hematopoietic stem cells. Commercial applications of Cellfoam devices will take advantage of existing markets in basic science and clinical medicine in which such systems are required but unavailable. Applications may foster fundamental advances in research and clinical fields, including gene therapy, bone marrow transplantation, and transfusion medicine, and thus have the potential for significant impact on basic as well as clinical disciplines.

209. Low-Cost, High-Power Gradient Cryo-amplifiers for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
American Superconductor Corp.
Two Technology Dr.
Westborough, MA 01581
tel: 508-836-4200; fax: 508-836-4248
e-mail: omueller@asc.mhs.compuserve.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Otward Mueller
President: Dr. Gregory J. Yurek
NSF Grant No. 9661055; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes an investigation of the new High-Speed CryoPowerÔ concept for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) power systems, especially their gradient/RF amplifiers. It introduces a "new technology to reduce the cost of health care without reducing quality of care" by decreasing the equipment size, facilities and operating costs, and space requirements of this relatively new imaging modality. By cryogenically cooling the semiconductor devices used and combining them eventually with high-temperature superconductors (HTS), substantial enhancements in performance can be expected. Superconductivity and low-temperature superconducting magnets allowed magnetic resonance imaging to be developed, thus making possible one of historyís most successful medical diagnostic tools. But unique high-speed cryogenic power electronics can do even more for public health worldwide by drastically reducing the cost, size, weight and air-conditioning requirements of key and expensive power electronic components of an MRI system.

In Phase I, a cryogenic miniature switchmode PWM gradient amplifier (300-600 V, 100-400 A) of high efficiency will be constructed for a technical/economic assessment. A special and key feature will be high-speed PWM switching (200-500 kHz). MRI systems are uniquely suited for the first implementation of this new concept because (1) the cryogenics is already available, (2) the duty cycles are low, and (3) more gradient power is desirable in general and for angiography and fast-scan MRI in particular. Great potential for commercial applications exists in various areas of power electronics.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications include cost- and size-reduced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems, which will allow for lower-cost health care and mass screening, especially in rural areas. The project promotes MRI exports and demonstrates the new technology of High-Speed CryoPowerÔ, which will have many applications in fields where power electronics is required.

210. Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs) as Control Parameters for Engineered Antimicrobial Processes in Indoor Air Environments
Quality Air Heating & Cooling of Midland, Inc.
3600 Centennial Dr.
Midland, MI 48640
tel: 517-496-2233; fax: 517-496-2695
Principal Investigator: Dr. Stacy L. Daniels
President: Michael T. Fox
NSF Grant No. 9661260; Amount: $74,552

This Small Business Innovative Research Phase I project will demonstrate the feasibility of identifying microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) by high-speed gas chromatography (MSGC) for possible control of antimicrobial engineered processes. Microbes and MVOCs that adversely affect indoor air quality (IAQ) are of interest to industrial hygienists, research administrators, heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) system designers, and environmental health officials. MVOCs are associated with outdoor air, building materials, occupants, and HVAC systems. Variations in sources, process conditions, building activities, and environmental factors produce concentration patterns that require rapid and continuous monitoring. Existing monitors are limited to simple mixtures and are restricted by high detection levels and slow analysis times. HSGC can potentially speciate and resolve complex mixtures of MVOCs at low detection levels (< 0.1 ppb) and short analysis times (< 10 sec).

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The HSGC monitor will provide rapid detection of MVOCs from microbes having potential health effects; more efficient operation of HVAC systems; improved design and construction of IAQ systems; and better control of engineered antimicrobial processes. The technology has utility in detection, prevention, and control of MVOCs associated with hospitals, remediation sites, pollution prevention activities, production processes, and natural environments.

211. Photocatalytically Active Filters for VOC Removal from Gas Streams
Energy & Environmental Research Corp.
18 Mason
Irvine, CA 92618
tel: 949-859-8851; fax: 949-859-3194
e-mail: vzamansky@eercorp.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Vladimir M. Zamansky
President: Dr. Thomas J. Tyson
NSF Grant No. 9661290; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is a feasibility study of utilizing photocatalytic filters for effective VOC removal from gas streams before discharging them to the atmosphere. The U.S. EPA list of seventeen high-volume and high-release toxic industrial chemicals includes six chlorinated organics. These compounds are more resistant to oxidation than most other organic species. Advanced technologies should be developed for destruction of VOC that include chlorinated organic compounds. The proposed photocatalytic filters will use a specially prepared surface to oxidize toxic contaminants at ambient temperature and pressure and simultaneously will separate the solid particles present in the gas stream. The objectives of the research are to (1) synthesize and characterize the novel catalytic filter with exceptional properties for decontamination of air and industrial exhaust gases, and (2) measure the photocatalytic oxidation activity of this filter in the mineralization of selected VOC. The Phase I study will deliver the reaction rate expression that enables prediction of the oxidation rate of the contaminants as a function of humidity and the concentrations of the contaminants. Also, this project will obtain data to develop the most effective and economic size of the system for exhaust gas stream cleaning processes.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed photooxidation filters can remove toxic VOC and particulate matter at ambient temperature and pressure. The process is simple and inexpensive and has the potential to be widely used in the industry for VOC removal from air and industrial gases. The process combined with advanced air-conditioning systems can be also used for indoor air cleaning. The photocatalytic filter will oxidize chlorinated toxic compounds to form H2O, CO2, as well as HC1, which can be easily removed by passing the exhaust gas through a water bubbler.

212. Resonantsonic Advanced Oxidation Reactor
Montec Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 4182
Butte, MT 59702-4182
tel: 406-494-5555; fax: 406-494-7766
e-mail: lcfarrar@buttenet.com
Principal Investigator: Lawrence C. Farrar
President: Cynthia K. Farrar
NSF Grant No. 9661341; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project presents a novel mechanical method to cause low-frequency, sonic-energy-driven cavitation of liquids for application as an advanced oxidation reactor. Local high temperatures (>5000°C), high pressures (several hundred atmospheres), and high shear forces have been demonstrated to occur within cavitation bubbles generated by ultrasonics. The high energy environment created during implosion of the cavitation bubble acts as a "microreactor" to enable and/or to accelerate chemical reactions. The production of hydroxyl ions and peroxide for use as an aggressive oxidant via ultrasonically induced cavitation is well documented. The proposed technology, termed ResonantSonics, has been used at Montec to produce highly energetic cavitation in liquids and slurries at low frequencies (e.g., <2000 Hertz). The ability to cause cavitation with low-frequency sonics has profound implications, as it overcomes the severe scaling and cost restrictions that have prevented the commercial ultrasonic processing applications. Exploratory tests conducted at Montec have demonstrated that ResonantSonics can destroy (oxidize) cyanide and greatly enhance removal of cyanide and fluoride, as well as heavy metals, from contaminated materials. The results of these exploratory experiments provide the strong motivation for us to develop ResonantSonics as a viable commercial advanced oxidation process.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The importance of this research is that ResonantSonics, once developed, could provide a viable, sonochemical means, suitable for efficient scale-up, to destroy or convert a broad range of hazardous waste types. Commercial applications are numerous and include treatment of mixed and hazardous wastes at government and industrial sites.

213. Prototype of Health Care Quality Assurance Software for an Internet Environment
CK Software, Inc.
210 North Higgins, Suite 334
Missoula, MT 59802-4443
tel: 406-721-2606; fax: 406-721-4225
e-mail: jkogan@cksoftware.com>
Principal Investigator: Jerry Kogan
President: Jerry Kogan
NSF Grant No. 9661382; Amount: $74,992

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project offers a new information strategy for addressing the need for quality and efficiency in the health care industry. Using Internet tools and techniques, CK Software, Inc., will develop a Protocol Engine to provide nurses and physicians with access to health care rules and guidelines at the time of treatment, the point at which the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care can be most efficiently improved.

During Phase I the Protocol Engine will be prototyped as a Web-server application. Tools and techniques for accessing current data on mainframe and minicomputers will be investigated. Server/browser notification techniques will be developed so that users can be informed of the actions they need to take. Processes for integrating standard lab and chart notes applications will be demonstrated to show how users can take full advantage of the network and Web-server environment and to display the full power of this approach for our future customers: insurance companies, managed care organizations, and clinics.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The fully functional Protocol Engine that we intend to develop with Phase II funding will be a valuable tool for increasing efficiency while improving care quality, and will be very appealing to insurers and managed care organizations.

214. A New Approach to Low-Cost Enzyme Expression in Bacillus
Enzyme Design, Inc.
P.O. Box 27008
Lansing, MI 48909
tel: 517-336-4622; fax: 517-332-7810
e-mail: Deits@mbi.org
Principal Investigator: Thomas L. Deits
President: Russell Hopper
NSF Grant No. 9661474; Amount: $74,995

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will generate proof-of-principle data for a new enabling technology in enzyme expression, termed EnzyMatrixÔ expression. EnzyMatrixÔ expression adapts the major host microorganism in use in the enzyme industry, Bacillus subtilis, to create a new platform for enzyme expression. The product of EnzyMatrixÔ expression is a particulate form of the target heterologous enzyme. The particulate nature of the product facilitates enzyme recovery, affording the potential to greatly simplify downstream processing. Since downstream processing costs dominate bioproduct selling prices, these savings can substantially expand the market for enzyme applications in the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries. The particles themselves are heat, shear, and organic chemical resistant, offering a platform for catalysts for use in a variety of industrial processes.

The research objectives of this proposal are to:

  1. Express two enzymes with significantly different structures and functions using EnzyMatrixÔ expression and evaluate the properties of the resulting expressed enzymes.

  2. Using one of the expressed enzymes as a model, increase the level of expression on a per-cell and a per-liter fermenter basis.

  3. Carry out strain improvement to improve yield and speed EnzyMatrixÔ expression.

  4. Evaluate chemical and genetic methods for stabilizing EnzyMatrixÔ enzymes.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: EDI will commercialize specialty enzymes produced using EnzyMatrixÔ expression through strategic partnerships with enzyme producers and users. EnzyMatrixÔ expression will allow EDI to offer rapid development and scale-up, uniform product properties, and economical production as its key advantages in the marketplace.

215. Oxidation of Organic Compounds in Water with Cavitating Jets
Dynaflow, Inc.
7210 Pindell School Rd.
Fulton, MD 20759-9721
tel: 301-604-3688; fax: 301-604-3689
e-mail: info@dynaflow-inc.com
Principal Investigator: Kenneth M. Kalumuck
President: Georges L. Chahine
NSF Grant No. 9661572; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project is aimed at the development of an efficient, cost-effective technology for treatment of water polluted with organic wastes-including volatile organic compounds (VOCs)-by complete oxidation. Organic wastes pose a major environmental health hazard at numerous industrial sites and laboratory facilities, causing air pollution and groundwater contamination. However, complete oxidation by conventional means entails costly chemical treatment and often leads to carcinogenic end products.

The proposed research will apply hydrodynamic cavitation to induce oxidation in the bulk solution. The novelty of this approach lies in the use of resonating cavitating jets to trigger widespread cavitation. The Phase I research will address the feasibility of the technique. A detailed experimental investigation will be performed to assess the effects of jet type, operating conditions, and cavitation enhancement devices on the oxidation process. The oxidation products will be chemically analyzed to provide a quantitative measure for the oxidation efficiency based on the power required. Results will be compared with those of more conventional ultrasonic cavitation oxidation. In Phase II, scale-up, optimization, and prototype issues will be addressed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The technology will provide a reliable, cost-effective means for waste handling and elimination of organic compounds such as dissolved VOCs, leading to safe end products. It will be of use to industries and government facilities in disposing of toxic substances that have accumulated in huge amounts over past decades and that continue to be produced.

216. Exhaustive Oxidation of Indoor Air Contaminants Via An Ozonated, UV Irradiated Fluorocarbon/TiO2 Dispersion
Surfactant Associates, Inc.
P.O. Box 2705
Norman, OK 73070-2705
tel: 405-366-7677; fax: 405-366-7651
e-mail: blrobert@mailhost.ec-uoknor.edu
Principal Investigator: Bruce L. Roberts
President: Jeffery H. Harwell
NSF Grant No. 9661583; Amount: $75,000

An enhanced process for the exhaustive oxidation of air contaminants is proposed. The process involves ozonation of a fluorocarbon fluid possessing extremely high solubility for ozone. The fluorocarbon is completely oxidation resistant and biologically inert, and its high solubility for gases has allowed its use as an artificial blood substitute in thousands of surgical operations. The fluorocarbon has demonstrated the preferential ability to extract a variety of both gaseous and liquid hydrocarbon and chlorocarbon contaminants from air streams. It has a low viscosity and an even lower volatility while being a superior solvent for gaseous contaminants relative to all hydrocarbon solvents. The fluid is an excellent medium for oxidation reactions and poses no contamination risk itself. For such reasons it has been previously used with dispersions of TiO2 particles for the ultraviolet (UV) catalyzed photooxidation of air contaminants. Exhaustive oxidation was achieved in such UV irradiated dispersions due to the air contaminants collecting at the solid/liquid interface of the TiO2 particles and their intermediate oxidation products being unable to escape. The intermediate oxidation products themselves physically adsorbed at the solid/liquid interface until completely oxidized to CO2. It is proposed that this effect would also be seen for ozone-catalyzed oxidation in such fluorocarbon/TiO2 dispersions. It is also proposed that, by using a high surface area TiO2 aerogel dispersion, the physical adsorption capacity for air contaminants would be enhanced by an order of magnitude.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The loss of productivity, associated worker illness, and sheer human suffering caused by poor indoor air quality that is the result of VOCs, dust, and biologicals such as microorganisms and dander have now been recognized. Indoor air quality is in need of significant improvement. The initial target markets for the proposed process are small confinement areas such as passenger aircraft and nuclear submarines, where indoor air quality is very poor. Other markets are hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, office buildings, shopping malls, and restaurants, to mention a few. Essentially, the market is the treatment of indoor air of any structure occupied by humans.


Topic 25¾Special Education Equipment for Persons
with Physical Handicaps

217. Design of a New and Improved Print Reading Machine for the Blind
Blazie Research, Inc.
2700 Market Pl.
Stuart, FL 34997
tel: 561-223-6443; fax: 561-223-6413
e-mail: Deane@Blazie.com
Principal Investigator: Deane B. Blazie
President: Deane B. Blazie
NSF Grant No. 9660101; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovative Research Phase I project will test a new design of a print reading machine for the blind that will ultimately replace the twenty-five-year-old Optacon reading device for which manufacturing and support have been discontinued.

Blazie Research, Inc., together with its consultant team, responding to extensive interest among blind consumers, will investigate the feasibility of a new reader that improves on Optacon functionality through the application of current technologies. The research target is a tactile reading aid that, in contrast to the Optacon device, is easier and quicker to learn, allows for faster reading speeds, is less expensive, and offers a more extensive range of uses. This research effort has the potential of creating a new hybrid audio/tactile/haptec tool to allow students, especially in the sciences and mathematical studies, to explore and understand symbols, graphics, and spatially arranged text.

The research plan will test modifications to the tactile images to make them easier to read, using imaging-processing algorithms to improve letter quality and letter spacing. The work plan will apply new technologies for building the tactile array. We envision using the "comb" array structure of Piezo Systems, Inc., a promising development for lowering the cost of manufactured goods. Strategic advantages for blind readers will be tested by Blazie Research, Inc., by accessorizing the reading aid for the classroom and the marketplace.

Blazie Research, Inc., is joined in these investigations by three well-known consultants active in the field: J. Bliss Imaging Systems, Inc., Dr. James C. Bliss, President; Piezo Systems, Inc., Robert Carter, President; Ergonomic Design Institute, Stephen Wicker, Director.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed new reading aid for the blind-which allows for fast reading speed, is easy and quick to learn, and offers expanded potential as a new hybrid audio/tactile/haptec tool for reading mathematical symbols and graphics-fills the void for immediate access to print materials by the blind reader in a variety of settings and in nearly every language. Blazie Research, Inc., and Blazie Engineering, Inc., expect to test, productise, and manufacture the new device and present it for sale to a worldwide market of visually handicapped consumers.

218. Modern Design and Engineering Education in the Agile Engineering World
Concepts ETI, Inc.
4 Billings Farms Rd.
White River Jct., VT 05001
tel: 802-296-2321; fax: 802-296-2325
e-mail: eolson@conceptseti.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. David Japikse
President: Dr. David Japikse
NSF Grant No. 9660207; Amount: $74,960.32

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project seeks to enhance teaching effectiveness for the design process in mechanical engineering education. Effective teaching of design poses a problem for universities. Advanced design is an object-based discipline, whereas conventional courses are subject-based. The skill of the designer lies in applying knowledge and creating something that did not exist before. A designer must be able to judge the technical and economic worth of a design. However, class problems that test or reinforce knowledge have a unique solution. Design skills are required by industry because it is only by continuous design improvements that industries can remain globally competitive. The proposer and three university partners (and a twelve-university advisory panel) will cooperatively introduce realistic design features into engineering education via the development of an advanced product for environmentally friendly transportation applications. The ostensible goal is to design a hybrid-electric gas turbine automotive power plant. The project creates (1) an advanced design-based learning environment at a variety of universities, (2) educational tools and methods not currently available, (3) a template for similar programs for other disciplines, (4) a viable engineering product of social and environmental value, (5) a bridge for education and design between universities and industry.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This project provides new computer-based courseware-design teaching tools for a variety of U.S. engineering universities in a historically strong, but currently weak, engineering field, namely, turbomachinery. It will open the door for other design disciplines. It will also result in the development of a new hybrid-electric gas turbine power plant with production in Phase III.

219. Using Multimedia and Communication to Promote Conceptual Change
LexIcon Systems
Beaver Meadow Rd.
Sharon, VT 05065
tel: 802-763-7599
e-mail: mlh@lexiconsys.com
Principal Investigator: Michael L. Hillinger, Ph.D.
President: Michael L. Hillinger, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660334; Amount: $74,564

A sizable body of research has shown that students at all grade levels often hold views of the physical world that are inconsistent with scientific observations. Once acquired, these misconceptions are difficult to overcome and can persist even after the student has been given the "correct" explanation in class.

For learning to occur, students must be made aware of these misconceptions and confronted with the discrepancy between the misconceptions and reality. We will develop a prototype system that enables students to actively explore problems using multimedia simulations and provides integrated writing and communication tools as an avenue for highlighting and refuting any misconceptions. This prototype will utilize a series of interconnected Quicktime videos to provide a simulated space for exploring mirror reflections and virtual images. We will develop, test, and refine this prototype by including classroom teachers as an integral part of the instruction process.

Components of the system will be evaluated to answer the following questions: (1) Does the system provide a significant advantage over more conventional instructional methods? (2) If so, can we partition the effect according to different system capabilities? (3) Can this system be easily integrated into the middle school classroom as it exists today?

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The product would be a series based on high-quality multimedia simulations on CD-ROM with a common set of communication tools. Ultimately, some or all of this product could be distributed on the Internet.

220. Classroom Auditory Transceiver for Hearing Impaired

Cleveland Medical Devices, Inc.
11000 Cedar Ave., Suite 139
Cleveland, OH 44106-3052
tel: 216-791-6720; fax: 216-791-6744
e-mail: sales@clevemed.com
Principal Investigator: Robert N. Schmidt
President: Robert N. Schmidt
NSF Grant No. 9660437; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project developed the teacherís wireless auditory transceiver, which both transmits and receives speech, for classroom and home use. The entire System currently consists of (1) the Auditory Transceivers (both teacher and student versions) and (2) the Automatic System Controller. The Auditory Transceiver is the device worn by hearing impaired persons and others in communication with them. The Automatic System Controller is the self-acting channel switching unit that monitors and controls the system.

This frequency modulated (FM) Classroom Auditory Transceiver System improves 2-way communication among hearing impaired children and their teachers, classmates, parents, and siblings by allowing easy communications for entire classrooms, small lab groups and math work groups, and individual instruction. A programmable Auditory Transceiver for the teacher was developed. It contained press to talk and mute functions, providing assured secure communications for teachers of hearing impaired. The entire system allows hearing impaired children to both hear and speak to other hearing impaired children through the FM radio system. Testing in a hearing impaired classroom proved the viability of the teacher Auditory Transceiver unit and of the entire Classroom Auditory Transceiver System.

221. Single-Switch Access to Science Software

Academic Software, Inc.
331 West Second St.
Lexington, KY 40507
tel: 606-233-2332; fax: 606-231-0725
e-mail: ASIWEL@acsw.com, pennyd@acsw.com
Principal Investigator: Warren E. Lacefield, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator: Penelope D. Ellis
President: Warren E. Lacefield, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9660571; Amount: $74,958

The Single-Switch Access to Science Software project utilized WinSCAN, an innovative programmable single-switch control access interface for PC computers developed by ASI, in conjunction with existing high-quality science software to demonstrate that students with severe multiple physical disabilities can utilize the same software and perform the same science activities in the classroom as their peers without disabilities. Custom WinSCAN scanning control displays and detailed lesson plans for learning activities were developed specifically for three selected science programs and for exploratory Internet access to science study. These materials were field tested by mainstream classroom teachers and children with and without disabilities. Given evidence of the scientific and technical feasibility of the methodology in Phase I, a fully and independently accessible set of supplemental science curriculum materials, lesson plans, and activities for children in grades K-5, covering a broad range of science topics and pursuits, were developed for Phase II. These materials will assist children with severe disabilities to have the hands-on experience needed to appreciate and gain confidence and competence in early scientific and technical training.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: When fully developed in Phase II and Phase III, the Single-Switch Access to Science Software curriculum materials will be of substantial value for early science education experiences for children with disabilities in kindergartens and elementary classrooms throughout the country. The materials will also benefit parents and children in homes that have access to inexpensive PC computers and mass information utilities such as America Online. ASI plans to market the modules through its own network of assistive technology dealers and to explore the interests of larger educational publishing houses that supply curriculum materials and software to schools and school districts on a national basis.

222. Computer Interactive Plant Biotechnology Education
EDVOTEK, Inc.
P.O. Box 1232
West Bethesda, MD 20872-1232
tel: 301-251-5990; fax: 301-340-0582
e-mail: edvotek@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Karen Miyaki Graf
President: Mark C. Chirikjian
NSF Grant No. 9660647; Amount: $75,000

This project will research the exploration of computer interactive plant materials that have not been traditionally utilized in science education. The project will amplify the use of resources already established and supported by federal funds by utilizing plant material obtained through genetic and germplasm stock collections. These materials will be used to develop experiments with problem-based approaches for teaching and learning various concepts in biology and biotechnology. The project places emphases on incorporating information and feedback from science educators and strives to maintain consistency with the published aims of major science curricula reform strategies to enable students to develop higher-level critical thinking skills. The focus of research will be on identifying and testing new plant resources that can be used for problem-based experiment activities. During Phase II, these activities will be tested on three levels: (1) engage practicing educators in evaluating the performance and reproducibility of experiments outside the research laboratory environment, (2) evaluate the performance and reproducibility of experiments in classrooms by students, and (3) assess the efficacy of prototype experiments for meeting educational objectives. It is anticipated that this project will help promote a revitalization and renewal of interest in plant-based studies in science education.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Products will include computer interactive plant-based biotechnology education experiments, plants, seeds and related reagents, laboratory manual, teacher training workshops, and products for science education for the high school and college levels and for Advanced Technology Education (ATE) training.

223. "Sky Explorer"Ô: A Low-Cost Telescope/CCD Camera System, Incorporating Interactive Software, to Enrich High School Science and Technology Learning by Enabling Student Research Projects in Astronomy
Boston Engineering Services
87 Metacomet St.
Belchertown, MA 01007
tel: 413-323-7178; fax: 413-323-6536
e-mail: gtucker@bostoneng.com
Principal Investigator: George E. Tucker
President: George E. Tucker
NSF Grant No. 9660693; Amount: $74,129

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project exploits falling costs and increasing performance of small computer-assisted telescopes and CCD cameras to achieve a new, lower-cost design that is optimized for student learning and affordable for all schools. Such a system of telescope and camera, combined with user-friendly, interactive software that acts as an "intelligent tutor" in showing how to use the equipment and do projects, can allow high school students to perform projects of genuine scientific discovery previously only attempted by adults with scientific training. Such projects include UBVRI photometry of variable stars and the discovery and tracking of asteroids. Students also learn the latest technology. The research objective is to arrive at a suitable telescope/camera design and an effective software user interface to meet cost objectives and student needs. The research itself will consist of extensive experimentation by a software developer and instrument designer with a group of high school students using a prototype of such a telescope/camera system on a set of astronomy projects.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The potential commercial application is a marketable educational instrument for secondary, middle, and elementary schools, for universities, and for the amateur astronomy and public education audiences.

224. Versatile Economic Speech Technology (VEST)

Automated Functions, Inc.
7700 Leesburg Pike, Suite 420
Falls Church, VA 22043
tel: 703-883-9797; fax: 703-883-9798
e-mail: autofunc@tmn.com
Principal Investigator: Ron Morford
President: Ron Morford
NSF Grant No. 9660699; Amount: $74,960

People with visual impairments have few low-cost large-print and talking computer-based products to assist in business, school, or home. Sighted people frequently use economical commercially available computer-based products to save time, organize their schedule, help in school, and have fun. Blind and low-vision people should have low-cost access to similar technology to increase their independence and raise the quality of their lives. The goal of this research is to design and develop large-print and talking low-cost computer-based products to assist people with visual impairments. The Versatile Economic Speech Technology (VEST) uses mass-produced, inexpensive small computers in an innovative modular platform to create the core foundation for many assistive products. Recent enhancements in these small computers provide the functions needed to economically create these products.

This research is being performed by Automated Functions, Inc. (AFI), a leader in the field of adaptive aid technology to assist visually impaired people. AFI understands the needs of visually impaired people and is skilled in both software and hardware design and development. VEST products may assist thousands of visually impaired students and business professionals throughout the world by providing low-cost useful products that have large print and speech output.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: VEST products will assist low-vision and blind people. Many commercial products may be created due to the modular platform approach. Potential products include a large-print and talking scientific calculator, large-print and talking restaurant menus, a large-print and talking pocket organizer, and many more. The products may be converted to speak different foreign languages to increase distribution.

225. Connecting to Data
Key Curriculum Press
P.O. Box 2304
Berkeley, CA 94702
tel: 510-548-2304; fax: 510-548-0755
e-mail: bfinzer@keypress.com
Principal Investigator: William F. Finzer
President: Steve Rasmussen
NSF Grant No. 9660827; Amount: $74,954

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes to prototype and test software tools and curriculum resources for teachers and students to engage in data exploration, collaborative data gathering, and analysis among remote sites. The new curriculum materials and Internet-based software tools will be integrated with the DataSpaceÔ computer learning environment for data analysis and statistics. The new software will give learners direct access to data on the Internet, eliminating the downloading and importing processes. With DataSpace, teachers and students will be able to publish new data sets on the Internet with a defined level of access-read, add-to, or modify-by others. The prototype curriculum materials will provide classroom-based examples of how to use these new capabilities. Finally, the project will draft standards for storage of datasets on the Internet and begin discussion of such standards among interested organizations.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed research will lead to significant enhancements to the DataSpace software and additional curriculum materials, all of which will be of great utility in the rapidly expanding secondary school statistics market.

226. 3-D Sketchpad
Key Curriculum Press
P.O. Box 2304
Berkeley, CA 94702
tel: 510-548-2304; fax: 510-548-0755
e-mail: njackiw@keypress.com
Principal Investigator: Nicholas R. Jackiw
President: Steve Rasmussen
NSF Grant No. 9660861; Amount: $74,850

This Small Business Innovative Research Phase I project builds on the success of The Geometerís SketchpadÒ, one of few pieces of educational software to have a real effect on the teaching of mathematics in secondary schools. The research will prototype a next generation of this software-3-D Sketchpad, an integrated exploratory environment for creating, analyzing, and investigating three- and higher-dimensional mathematics.

The Geometerís Sketchpad allows users to carry out geometric constructions using standard two-dimensional tools and transformations (Euclidís compass and straightedge tools augmented by reflection, rotation, and dilation). At any time, users may drag one or more objects in the sketch using the computerís mouse, and all of the other objects will dynamically adjust their position and size to maintain the constructed relationships. This simple idea has profound implications in the teaching and learning of mathematics. Generalized to three dimensions, the revolution in geometry education brought about by Sketchpad has the opportunity to broaden the geometry curriculum and extend its relevance to other areas in mathematics and science.

The objectives of this Phase I research project are to design and prototype critical elements of 3-D Sketchpad and to describe and prototype the support materials that will ease its introduction into classrooms.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The Geometerís Sketchpad has been an undeniable commercial success. If the proposed research meets its goals, the resulting software and support materials will have even greater application in middle schools, secondary schools, and colleges.

227. Innovative Artificial Life Lab for Life Science Instruction
DA Technologies, Inc.
304 Inverness Way South, Suite 365
Englewood, CO 80112
tel: 303-792-5615; fax: 303-792-5633
e-mail: gcarter@privatei.com
Principal Investigator: Thomas G. Carter
President: Judith A. Armstrong
NSF Grant No. 9661112; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project addresses the need for innovative methods for instruction of life science topics on biological evolution, interdependence of organisms, and behavior of organisms.

The objective of the three-phase research program is to develop an innovative artificial life simulation for implementation on personal computers and the Internet. The simulation is innovative since it employs concepts from the relatively new field of artificial life as used for synthetic biology, and uses the concepts as a complement to traditional analytic biology.

The objective of the Phase I program is to quantify technological limits for the simulation imposed by the limits of personal computers and the Internet, and to perform preliminary classroom testing of the simulation using instructional support materials conforming to national science education standards for content and teaching. Lessons learned in Phase I will provide the foundation for full-scale development of the software in Phase II and commercialization and dissemination in Phase III.

The team assembled for the program consists of persons with skills and experience in innovative technology and sound education principles.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The artificial life simulation described in this proposal has a significant market. The need is enormous for innovative instructional resources. Applications include (1) classroom instruction, (2) implementation on the Internet, (3) use in museums and science and technology centers, and (4) sale as an entertainment product.

228. VLE-A Virtual Learning Environment to Support Group Learning in the Sciences
Analysis and Simulation, Inc.
172 Holtz Rd.
Buffalo, NY 14225
tel: 716-632-4932; fax: 716-632-4935
e-mail: info@ansim.com, paul@ansim.com
Principal Investigator: James A. Leone
President: Paul Patti
NSF Grant No. 9661274; Amount: $74,651

Analysis and Simulation, Inc. (AnSim) proposes to develop a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) system to support the teaching of the sciences and mathematics by group learning using case studies. The environment is a Windows-based implementation of the "table top" shared by the group during face-to-face meetings. The virtual system supports a distributed, multi-user, real-time group meeting in which "talking" is accomplished by "chat" channels and sharing of audiovisual materials is accomplished by graphics "whiteboard" and Web browser. The teacher may optionally join in on the "dispersed" groupís discussions. The system integrates a unique search facility and analytical engine to support the groupís case study research efforts. The VLE extends the groupís capacity to hold "meetings" and share retrieved research data while working on a case study, thereby having a synergistic effect on the groupís cohesiveness.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The complete VLE supports a group-learning, case-studies-based approach to learning and should be of general interest to college educators in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The VLE design is modular and capable of spin-off products: (1) the HME search facility could assist students to make their information retrieval from digital sources be more efficient, (2) the virtual meeting room with chat facility and whiteboard would give teachers the ability to "meet" with students "outside" the classroom. High schools, however, may only be interested in the HME search facility for use with their growing digital libraries.

229. A New Course of Experiments Based on an Inexpensive, Nanometer Resolution Interferometer

Science Research Laboratory, Inc.
15 Ward St.
Somerville, MA 02143
tel: 617-547-1122 x110; fax: 617-547-4104
Principal Investigator: Dr. Shrenik Deliwala
President: Dr. Jonah Jacob
NSF Grant No. 9661412; Amount: $74,938

Science Research Laboratory proposes to develop a rugged, inexpensive, alignment-free, optical interferometer that will be integrated with a course of experiments illustrating both the basic concepts of wave interference and the application of high-precision measurements in many disciplines. The instrument will be capable of optical path resolutions of better than 1 nm, which is one to two orders of magnitude more sensitive than typical instruments used for instruction. The scope of possible experiments is vast, ranging from measurement of position to nanometer precision to the photoacoustic detection of trace constituents for environmental monitoring. The interferometer may be used by high schools or science and engineering departments at the undergraduate level. The inherent flexibility and rich history of the device will make it an ideal tool for bringing the excitement of modern science and engineering to students.

Phase I will develop the design of a laboratory interferometric instrument as well as a coherent strategy for experiments, curricula, and pedagogic methods. In Phase II, SRL will construct a prototype instrument and produce a large database of experiments together with guidelines to integrate them into curricula. This instrument and associated database will be commercialized in Phase II.

The instrument is primarily targeted at the educational market, which currently does not offer an affordable research-grade instrument to students. Variations on the instrument will be developed for dedicated commercial applications such as high-frequency measurements of gas density fluctuations and electron density of plasmas.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The other potential applications of this interferometer are as a detector of trace chemical species, femtosecond spectroscopy, and electron density measurements in plasmas.


Topic 26¾Next-Generation Vehicles

230. A Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack with Improved Reactant Distribution and Stable Operation
BCS Technology, Inc.
4001 East 29th Street, Suite 170
Bryan, TX 77802-4211
tel: 409-260-9124; fax: 409-260-1623
e-mail: bcstech@bcschamber.org
Principal Investigator: Hari P. Dhar
President: Hari P. Dhar
NSF Grant No. 9660328; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project deals with issues on the improvement of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell stack to obtain better reactant distribution and uniform performance among individual cells of the stack. The traditional serpentine flow patterns have drawbacks, such as lengthy channels and non-uniform reactant distribution among the cells in the stack. The reactant flow path is of utmost importance in determining continued trouble-free fuel cell operation. The research objectives include designing flow patterns and manifolding for air and hydrogen, demonstration of performance in single cells and multi-cell stack, and establishing variables such as depth and width of a channel for optimum performance. Single fuel cells of active area 50cm2 will be assembled using graphite bipolar plates with the designed flow-fields. The membrane-electrode assemblies will be self-humidified types developed by the proposers. The fuel cells will be operated with cathodic reactants air and oxygen, and anodic reactant hydrogen. One four-cell stack will be evaluated to verify its performance and the flow related hypothesis at the stack-level. The anticipated results from this project are better reactant distribution among individual cells, uniform performance of all cells in a stack, and improved management of the product water.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Improved stack operation and cost reduction are needed for commercial viability of the PEM fuel cell. As the conventional energy sources get depleted, the PEM fuel cell, with its quiet, clean, and renewable energy, will make a strong impact as an alternate stand-by power source for numerous applications. The PEM fuel cell will be also used as a propulsion unit for the Next Generation Electric Vehicle program.

231. Low Cost High Quality Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
CCVD, Inc.
430 Tenth Street, NW
Suite N-108
Atlanta, GA 30318
tel: 404-874-6550; fax: 404-249-1719
e-mail: mct@ccvd.com
Principal Investigator: Jan Hwang, Ph.D.
President: Dr. Andrew Hunt
NSF Grant No. 9660598; Amount: $75,000

Candidate solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) materials, such as YSZ, doped-LaGaO3, doped-LaCrO3, LSM and Ni-YSZ, have been deposited by thin and thick film techniques. However, many traditional thin film technologies are subject to certain limitations, such as the requirement for high vacuum chambers and line-of-sight limitation, which restrict their commercial viability for SOFCs. The ability to address these limitations and deposit low cost, high quality, fuel cell thin films at moderate substrate temperatures without post deposition treatment is essential for the wide spread commercialization of fuel cells.

With the CCVD technology, high quality solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) materials can be deposited at a 90% cost reduction and at twice the deposition rate of traditional CVD. The simplicity and practicality of the CCVD process is receiving the full attention from participants in the SOFC marketplace. MicroCoating Technologies (MCT) has shown that CCVD processing does achieve epitaxial, phase pure, dense, smooth coatings of YSZ and DLC materials, and porous, conductive, columnar Ni-YSZ and LSM. Additionally, BaCeO3, Pt and multilayered YSZ have been deposited by MCT.

In this Phase I research, thin films of SOFC materials will be grown, and the processing apparatus scaled up. This research will demonstrate the ability of CCVD to inexpensively deposit high quality reproducible YSZ, doped-LaGaO3 and other thin films for use in fuel cells, oxygen sensors, and other applications. In Phase II a small scale, commercial prototype for stacked SOFCs up to 20cm across, with power density near 1 watt/cm2 will result from this effort. Commercialization of the technology through partnering with fuel cell oriented companies or private funding will also be achieved.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Low cost, high quality YSZ, DLC, Ni-YSZ and LSM films for SOFCs stacked cells producing power densities of 1 watt/cm2 are desired. The commercialization of stacked SOFCs in vehicles and portable power generation would be achieved by utilizing thin films to increase power density 10 times per units volume and mass. These high power densities position SOFCs to capitalize on a potential multi-billion dollar industry, and at the same time offer significant environmental advantages. To validate commercial interest in the CCVD technology for SOFCs, a letter of support from Westinghouse is included in this proposal.

232. VLSI Implementations of Neuromorphics "Virtual Sensors" for Intelligent Diagnostics and Control
Mosaix, LLC
1229 Bruce Avenue
Glendale, CA 91202
tel: 818-265-1359; fax: 818-507-7946
Principal Investigator: Alexander Moopenn
President: Raoul Tawel
NSF Grant No. 9660637; Amount: $74,750.20

Mosaix proposes to develop a novel, compact, low-cost, and single chip adaptive neuroprocessor. This bit-serial based digital CMOS VLSI electronic neural network device will combine on-chip integration of a fully reconfigurable feedforward/time-lagged recurrent neuroprocessor with a backpropagation weight training module. Specifically, our technical objectives are to develop a neuroprocessor chip suitable for direct insertion into Fordís advanced concept vehicles. In operation, this stand-alone electronic neural network will act as a co-processor to the engine computerís (EEC) central processing unit (CPU). The neuroprocessor will be software programmable, enabling it to execute multiple different neural network applications on-the-fly; be capable of event rate computational throughput (<100 microseconds) per application; be of a single chip design (neuroprocessor with on-chip weight training); and cost effective (<$20/chip). The importance of on-chip adaptation is to address the problems of fixed weight neural networks¾namely that an applications synaptic weights (a optimized at the factory for a generic model) be allowed to tweak/self-calibrate themselves for optimal diagnostic and control performance on the vehicle in order to handle most accurately all conditions under which the particular system is deployed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This research is in direct collaboration with Ford Motor Company. The end product of this research and development is particularly relevant to all diagnostics and control applications¾in the automotive industry, in aerospace, as well as process control in the electronics commercial industry.

233. Electrocatalysts for Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

T/J Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 2150
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
tel: 734-213-1637; fax: 734-213-3758
e-mail: ultracap@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael Wixom
President: Ms. Maria Thompson
NSF Grant No. 9660664; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will results in the production of new electrocatalysts for use in direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC). The development of electrocatalysts that efficiently oxidize methanol and are tolerant to CO and impurities in the fuel is a key challenge for the commercialization of DMFCs. The primary hypothesis of this proposal is that multifunctional Pt/metal oxide/metal carbide (Pt/MO/MC) electrocatalysts that will be effective for the electrochemical oxidation of methanol. This design combines two previous strategies that have proven very successful in improving the efficiency and CO tolerance of anodic electrocatalysts. Highly dispersed bifunctional sites will be produced on high surface area metal carbide support materials. The bifunctional sites and carbide support are inherently active and CO-tolerant. in Phase I, three process variables used in preparing the supported electrocatalysts will be varied. The compositional and microstructural properties will be characterized and the electrocatalysts will be fabricated into electrodes for standard electrochemical activity measurements. In Phase II the electrocatalysts and electrode designs will be optimized, and prototype DMFCs will be fabricated. These results will allow issues related concerning the commercialization of DMFCs based on Pt/MO/MC electrocatalysts to be addressed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The widespread use of fuel cells would be positively impacted by the development of a low cost, high efficiency DMFC. The DMFC offers several advantages over conventional fuel cells based on hydrogen in particular with respect to fuel energy density, delivery and storage. The demonstration of efficient, poison-tolerant electrocatalysts will significantly improve the feasibility of using DMFCs in Next Generation Vehicles. DMFCs may also compete with gas turbines for generation of electricity.

234. Tertiary Recycling Process for Polymer-Based Automotive Components

Adherent Technologies, Inc.
9621 Camino Del Sol NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111
tel: 505-822-9186; fax: 505-821-8675
e-mail: 102546.1234@compuserve.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Ronald E. Allred
President: Dr. Ronald E. Allred
NSF Grant No. 9660673; Amount: $74,999

The goals for the Next Generation Vehicles program require that significant vehicle weight reductions be attained. Weight reductions will likely involve increased use of engineering plastics and composites that are difficult to recycle using conventional technologies. To solve that problem, a novel tertiary recycling process is proposed for investigation as an economical means for recycling scrap automotive plastics and composites. Early development work on this process for recycling scrap aerospace composites and scrap electronics shows that it can convert a variety of polymers and composites into low molecular weight hydrocarbons at temperatures near 300oC. The hydrocarbons produced can then be reused as chemicals, fuels, or monomers. Metal, glass, fillers, and fibers are separated from the hydrocarbons during the process and can be reclaimed or landfilled. Initial laboratory feasibility studies have shown that the proposed catalytic conversion process is applicable to plastics and composites used in automotive parts. This process does not require presorting of plastic wastes and allows fibers and fillers to be reclaimed for reuse. This proposal presents a research plan to study application of this tertiary recycling technology for recycling of automotive waste plastics and composites with a bench-scale continuous process to identify design issues for the construction of a large-scale demonstration unit in the Phase II program.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed recycling process will allow waste automotive plastics and composites currently being landfilled to be converted into valuable hydrocarbons for reuse as chemicals, fuels, or polymers. Recycling machines based on this process may be scaled to use requirements of large and small cities, government installations, and industrial plastic scrap generators.

235. Conductive Oxide Coatings on Aluminum Sheets for Low-Temperature Fuel Cell Stacks
Crystals & Ceramic Technology, Inc.
P.O. Box 68378
Indianapolis, IN 46268-0378
Tel: 317-549-2715; fax: 317-543-3072
Principal Investigator: Dr. Krishna M. Choudhary
President: Steven L. Ford, CPA
NSF Grant No. 9661040; Amount: $75,000

The cost of low-temperature fuel cell stacks can be greatly reduced if the bipolar graphite plates, which are used to connect the fuel cells in series, can be replaced by aluminum plates with conductive and corrosion resistant coatings. Crystals & Ceramic Technology, Inc., a Polywood affiliate, proposed to investigate conductive perovskite-type oxide coatings on aluminum sheets and plates for potential application in low-temperature fuel cell stacks. The conductive oxide coatings will be deposited on aluminum alloy substrates, coated with Ni/Cu bilayers, by low-temperature organometallic chemical vapor deposition (OMCVD). The multilayer thin film deposition scheme has been designed to reduce thermal stresses in the films. The coatings will be characterized by X-ray diffraction, optical microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. The corrosion resistance of the conductive oxide protective coatings will be determined by acetic acid salt spray test. In Phase I, the conductive perovskite-type oxide coatings will be synthesized at low temperatures (#325oC) by OMCVD using organometallic precursors and N20 (an oxidizer).

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The aluminum sheets and plates coated with conductive perovskite-type oxide thin films will be sued in low-temperature (87-125oC) fuel cell stacks. The conductive oxide coatings are expected to provide long-term corrosion resistance. The fuel cell stacks with conductive oxide coated aluminum sheets and plates will have potential application in the next generation zero emission vehicles: automobiles, buses, watercraft, and submarines. The conductive oxide protective coatings can also be applied to aluminum parts for non-decorative applications.

236. Low Cost Composite Plate for PEM Fuel Cell
Analytic Power Corp.
268 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210
tel: 617-542-6352 ext. 27; fax: 617-695-3272
e-mail: analytic@world.std.com
Principal Investigator: David P. Bloomfield
President: David P. Bloomfield
NSF Grant No 9661078; Amount: $74,805

Since the Presidentís NGV initiative, there has been an increased interest in fuel cells for transportation applications. The power generation problems have been solved but the weight and cost problems have not. One of the heaviest and costliest components in a fuel cell stack is the bipolar plate.

Analytic Power proposes to investigate using titanium nitride coated aluminum to replace the carbon and titanium bipolar plate parts. Additionally, simplified bipolar plate fabrication methods will be researched.

In the Phase I program we will determine the feasibility of using titanium nitride coated low cost metals, determine the type(s) of plastic that can be used for seal frames, and whether the plastic to metal bond is adequate for use in pressurized fuel cells. We will incorporate the new materials and methods into fuel cell stacks and conduct flow distribution, water management, and substack performance tests to evaluate the new materials and fabrication methods.

Success in this program will lead to dramatic reductions in PEM fuel cell stack cost. Such reductions are necessary for the NGV, which requires a much lower cost per kilowatt than is presently available with fuel cells.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Commercial applications of the research include clean power for vehicles and affordable distributed power generation, both of which would directly benefit. The advanced bipolar plate would also be of benefit to microclimate cooling applications and fuel cells used as replacements for batteries.

237. Conducting Polymer Based Bipolar Plates for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells
Lynntech, Inc.
7610 Eastmark Drive, Suite 105
College Station, TX 77840
tel: 409-693-0017; fax: 409-764-7479
Principal Investigator: Dr. Oliver J. Murphy
President: Dr. Oliver J. Murphy
NSF Grant No 9661134; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will demonstrate the feasibility of using conducting polymers to fabricate bipolar plates for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. To make PEM fuel cell power sources for electric vehicles cost-competitive with competing technologies, materials cheaper than presently used carbon/resin composites for bipolar plates must be identified and more cost-effective methods of manufacturing these plates compared to high temperature graphitization of carbon/resin composites must be developed. The goal of this project is to take advantage of recently developed electronically conducting polymer technology for the development of superior and cost-effective bipolar plates for PEM fuel cell stacks compared to the conventionally used graphitized carbon-based materials. The aim is to electrochemically synthesize net shape, high strength conducting polymer structures that exhibit high electronic conductivity at elevated temperatures in the presence of oxygen and that are not subject to oxidation/corrosion process in oxygen-saturated acidic environments at elevated temperatures. The attractiveness of the approach is that it will allow the room temperature preparation of high strength, highly conducting polymer materials suitable for use not only as bipolar plates in PEM fuel cell stacks but also in other acid fuel cell systems, such as the phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC) system. Thus, developed technology arising from this project should be an enabling technology leading to the manufacture of low cost fuel cell stacks.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Low temperature methanol/air and hydrogen/air PEM fuel cells have considerable commercial potential as power sources for electric vehicles. Other commercial applications include: providing electricity and heat for residential and small commercial buildings; portable power sources for communications and news gathering equipment; portable medical instrumentation used by rescue teams; and external electrical power sources for artificial heart and ventricular assist devices.

238. Double-layer Ultracapacitors Incorporating Microtextured Metal Electrodes
Ion Optics, Inc.
41 North Road, Suite 103
Bedford, MA 01730
tel: 781-275-4004; fax: 781-275-4004
e-mail: ejohnson@ion-optics.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Edward A. Johnson
President: Dr. Edward A. Johnson
NSF Grant No. 9661179; Amount: $74,970

This SBIRPI project will explore the feasibility of using microtextured metal electrodes as the basis of electrolytic ultracapacitors. For load leveling and sustained function after many cycles, ultracapacitors promise to become an integral part of many advanced power systems, particularly for hybrid electric vehicles and remotely operated battery systems. Although lower in specific energy than batteries, ultracapacitors potentially have a high specific power, enabling a synergy with lower power, but higher energy capacity, batteries, flywheels, or fuel cells. Present ultracapacitor designs use a highly porous structure of carbon (activated, foamed, or aerogel) as a high surface area electrode. High capacitance is achieved by the double-layer of polar molecules extracted from the electrolyte, which follows the convoluted surface of the carbon-coated electrodes. We propose ultracapacitors based on microtextured metal electrodes made by ion beam sputtering. Microtextured metals should improve performance through increased conductivity and wettability, while maintaining large surface area and ease of manufacture. Such surfaces have previously demonstrated remarkable changes in secondary electron emission, battery electrode performance, and optical properties, all related to increased surface area. Similar enhancements of ultracapacitor electrodes promise to enable them to finally approach their theoretical performance limits.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Ultracapacitors are, in combination with relatively lower power but high energy sources, ideal components of hybrid power supplies. In typical applications of current ultracapacitor technology to electrical vehicles, analysis by NREL predicts a reduction in peak battery power demanded by a factor of three or more, an increase in vehicle range of 50 percent, and a doubling of cycle life. Similar, or even greater, benefits to communications devices, computers, and motor-driven systems could be expected from microtextured metal electrodes.

239. A Self-Balancing, Expansion Matched Flywheel Design for Power-Assist Hybrid Vehicles
Helios International Inc.
3601 Empire Ave.
Burbank, CA 91505
tel: 818-565-5512; fax: 818-565-5610
e-mail: www.calstart.org/helios
Principal Investigator: Dr. Dwight W. Swett
President: Dr. John G. Ingersoll
NSF Grant No. 9661336; Amount: $75,000

This research and development effort addresses the design, fabrication, testing, and commercialization of an electromechanical battery for power-assist vehicle applications. Of the various candidate technologies for energy storage on board a hybrid electric vehicle, only flywheels require an evolutionary rate of progress compared to a revolutionary one for chemical batteries and ultracapacitors in terms of materials science developments. The ultimate objective of this effort is to lead to a commercial power assist electromechanical battery system with an energy storage of 3 kWh, a maximum power of 88 kW, a specific energy of 50 Wh/kg, a specific power of 1.4 kW/kg, and a life over 1 million cycles. Phase I of this effort addresses the design issues of rotor constitution out of three types of carbon fiber as well as the design of the hub, the permanent magnet motor, and the suspension/bearings sub-assemblies. Phase I also includes the design of a containment housing with appropriate energy dissipation and release mechanisms in the unlikely event of rotor failure. Phase II of this effort will address the fabrication of engineering prototypes and the validation of the Phase I design with the goal of having a producible and manufacturable prototype design. Automotive component suppliers as well as manufacturers will be sought during this phase of the work. In Phase II the engineering feasibility of the prototype design must be also demonstrated through projections in reduction of materials costs due to economies of scale as well as manufacturing costs by proper selection of processes. The target cost of the electromechanical battery system to be developed in this multi-phase effort has been set between $500 and $800 per kWh of energy.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The successful completion of Phase I will result in the design of an electromechanical battery for power assist vehicular applications. This design will be demonstrated by building and testing engineering prototypes in Phase II. Commercial feasibility will be sought after the end of Phase I and during Phase II through the development of the required partnerships with automotive suppliers as well as automotive manufacturers. The commercialization of the engineering prototypes after Phase II should result in the introduction of hybrid electric vehicles within the first decade of the 21st century.

240. Sensor for Reformer Performance Control
Giner, Inc.
14 Spring Street
Waltham, MA 02154-4497
tel: 781-899-7270; fax: 781-894-2762
Principal Investigator: Otto J. Prohaska, Ph.D.
President: Anthony B. LaConti, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661440; Amount: $74,970

This SBIRPI project is designed to develop a low-cost, on-line, integrated multiple-parameter gas sensors for reformer and fuel-cell-powered electric engine control, to optimize engine safety and efficiency. Initially, the multiple-parameter gas sensors are proposed for engines operating on a methanol reformate. Where H2, CO, methanol, and other electrochemically oxidizable, or reducible, gases are present, the sensor design and measurement concept will also be applicable to engines, which operate on distillate fuels, or natural gas, to power hybride electric vehicles, or building and utility equipment.

During Phase I, feasibility of the miniaturized sensor design and monitoring concept will be demonstrated for hydrogen, methanol, and carbon monoxide concentration measurements in the fuel stream. The electrochemical cell will be based on Giner, Inc.ís membrane electrode assembly techniques, using polymer electrolytes in combination with thick-film electrodes.

Collaboration with industry and research laboratories, actually involved in the reformer and fuel cell development, will be sought during Phase I for the Phase II product development program, and for funding of Phase III product engineering and manufacturing transfer.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The anticipated products resulting from this project are reliable, robust, stable, and inexpensive electrochemical gas sensors for use in fuel-cell-powered electric engines. Reformer efficiency control, fuel cell poison protection, and emission monitoring will be the main applications of these devices. A multimillion dollar market is expected from this market segment. It can be envisioned that these devices could also have broad application in environmental monitoring and industrial process control.

241. An Enhanced, High Density, High Surface Area, Monolithic Composite Storage Media for Natural Gas
NewMan Technology
4607 W. Heritage Place Dr. #4
Norman, OK 73072
tel/fax: 405-321-0598
e-mail: newman@mailhost.ecn.edu
Principal Investigator: Bita Young
President: Gerard K. Newman
NSF Grant No. 9661537; Amount: $75,000

This SBIR Phase I proposal addresses the essential problem facing commercialization of natural gas as a transportation fuel. That problem is the inability to store natural gas at a high enough energy density to compete directly with gasoline based fuels. The goal of commercializing natural gas as an alternative vehicular fuel has engendered intense research and development activities in the various areas of alternative fuel components and systems, component and vehicular dynamics, control systems, vehicular energy systems, and most importantly in the adsorptive storage media itself. Despite this activity, attempts to discover, fabricate, and/or re-engineer existing natural gas adsorbents have not led to a successful commercial storage media for natural gas. This proposal examines this problem and proposes a new and novel strategy, supported by actual data, for forming an enhanced, high density, high surface area, monolithic composite storage media for natural gas. The proposed storage media is higher in density than adsorbents previously evaluated for storing natural gas as well as having a well defined pore size that researchers have predicted as optimum for natural gas, i.e., methane storage. This SBIRPI effort, if successful, would have direct application in automotive transportation as well as in its supporting industries. It would also signal its application in gas separation technologies. This work is being developed by NewMan Technology (NMT). It capitalizes on previous efforts in alliance with The Institute for Gas Utilizationís Gas Separation, Storage and Properties Laboratory.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The Clean Air Act is mandating the move to cleaner alternative fuels for the transportation industry. The ability to utilize natural gas as easily as gasoline in vehicles would be not only environmentally profitable but economically so. This proposed process, if successful, would have economic ramifications across the industry. It would greatly reduce the U.S. reliance on Middle East oil as well as increasing the security and independence of the United States. This composite adsorbent approach is the first major step in natural gas adsorbent technology in several decades and offers a real potential for enhancing natural gas storage. The process is also potentially important across the spectrum of commercial storage and separation and purification techniques for natural gas.

242. Commercially Viable Deposition of Catalytic Films onto Proton Conducting Membranes
CCVD, Inc.
430 Tenth Street, NW
Suite N-108
Atlanta, GA 30381
tel: 404-874-6550; fax: 404-249-1719
e-mail: hornis@ccvd.com
Principal Investigator: Helmut G. Hornis, Ph.D.
President: Dr. Andrew Hunt
NSF Grant No. 9661724; Amount: $75,000

Low temperature, high efficiency H2/O2 and H2/Air based fuel cells are constructed using a variety of polymeric proton conduction membranes that are coated with a catalyst to activate the anodic/cathodic ionization reactions. Proton conducting NAFION, ASAHI and the GORE-Select series membranes are primary candidates for the next generation fuel cell with automotive and stationary applications. Currently platinum catalytic films are deposited by thick film technology or dip-coating resulting in high material expenses and/or yielding a mechanically fragile coating with low bonding strength.

As an initial proof of concept for this proposal and DuPont, MCT deposited an adherent platinum thin film onto NAFION in the open atmosphere. Platinum thin films deposited by the open atmosphere Combustion Chemical Vapor Deposition (CCVDSM) technology generally show properties similar or superior to those obtained by vacuum based CVD processes. Desirable adherent nanophase grains with radii of 10D to 100D can be deposited. XRD and SEM analysis indicated that the resulting film was amorphous with good adhesion to the substrate. The polymer foil is simply moved through the chamberless deposition zone, which allows large sheets or roll stock to be coated quickly. Since the CCVD technique uses solution based precursors, vapor pressures do not play a crucial role in selecting the precursor, and thus precursors generally are 30 percent to 95 percent less expensive than those needed for traditional CVD.

During Phase I proton conduction membranes will be coated with catalysis via the open atmosphere CCVD technology. Platinum is going to be evaluated for adhesion strength with the membrane and their microstructure with deposition variation.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: DuPont and Energy Partners have sent support letters for this Phase I research effort. The market for such membrane coatings goes beyond fuel cells for transportation and stationary applications to include chemical production and fluid processing. In total, the revenue opportunity can attain $10,000,000 in 5 years.

243. Development of Molecular-Sieve Electrocatalysts for PEM Fuel Cells
ElectroChem Inc.
400 W. Cummings Park
Woburn, MA 01801-6519
tel: 781-938-5300; fax: 781-935-6966
e-mail: fuelcell@usa1.com
Principal Investigator: Michael S. Pien, Ph.D.
President: Radha Jalan, Ph.D.
NSF Grant No. 9661670; Amount: $74,999

A novel approach to preparation of Pt electrocatalyst is proposed. Platinum clusters will be impregnated inside carbonaceous structures protecting the active sites from poisonous gases such as CO, CO2, etc. At least two different impregnation techniques will be tested in Phase I including CVD deposition technique and impregnation from liquid phase. The carbonaceous materials will be chemically treated prior to impregnation by using oxidative treatment procedure. Prepared catalysts will be evaluated by cyclic voltammetry, X-ray spectroscopy, AUGER spectroscopy, and elemental analysis. The catalyst performance will be evaluated in a single fuel cell with 5 cm2 active area. Hydrogen and hydrogen with premixed CO will be used as reactant gases. A comparison between conventional Pt/Ru catalyst and a novel catalyst will be performed.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Potential commercial application for the catalyst developed during the proposed research program will be used for PEM fuel cells in transportation applications. The catalyst can also be used for stationary fuel cell power systems operating on reformate gas and methanol.


Topic 27¾Microelectronics Manufacturing

244. On-Site Silane Gas Generator for Semiconductor Manufacturing
Electron Transfer Technologies
Princeton Business Park
5 Crescent Ave.
P.O. Box 727
Rocky Hill, NJ 08553
tel: 609-921-0070; fax: 609-921-6467
e-mail: wmaett@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. William M. Ayers
President: Dr. William Ayers
NSF Grant No. 9660037; Amount: $75,000

Semiconductor manufacturing requires the deposition of silicon, silicon dioxide, and silicon nitride layers. These steps are applied to products as diverse VLSI circuits, memory chips, flat panel active matrix displays, photocopier drums, and large area solar cells. All of these processes require silane gas (SiH4). Silane is spontaneously flammable in air, has a toxicity exposure limit of 0.5 ppm, and explosively reacts with halogens such as chlorine. Silane is the largest volume pyrophoric gas used by the semiconductor industry. These factors make silane use dangerous in semiconductor fabrication facilities where large quantities are stored in hundreds of high pressure compressed gas cylinders. These cylinders are inherent sources of danger because of the possibility of gas release during transportation, storage, and handling. Evacuating a semiconductor facility due to a silane cylinder leak disrupts production and is very expensive. Semiconductor companies expend significant amounts on preventing and containing possible leaks from silane cylinders. These expenditures add to manufacturing costs, and decrease the competitive position of U.S. semiconductor companies.

We propose to eliminate the hazards of silane cylinders by investigating the feasibility of producing silane with an on-site gas generator. The generator will produce silane on-demand at low pressure (20-40 psig), and with low hold-up volume (2 liters). The generator will be much safer than cylinder silane (1250 psig, 3500 liters storage volume per cylinder) and eliminate the need for storage of large numbers of cylinders.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: An on-site point-of-use silane gas generator would be widely purchased by major semiconductor manufacturing companies to eliminate the environmental liability of transporting and using silane gas cylinders.

245. Rotating-Field Plasma Source for Semiconductor Device Manufacturing
First Point Scientific, Inc.

5330 Derry Ave., Suite J
Agoura Hills, CA 91301

tel: 818-707-1131; fax 818-707-2352
e-mail: fpsi@silicon.net
Principal Investigator: Dr. John R. Bayless
President: Dr. John R. Bayless
NSF Grant No. 9660116; Amount: $75,000

This Small Business Innovative Research Phase I project will provide a preliminary demonstration of the feasibility of a novel plasma source for advanced semiconductor processing. There is a major need for improved low pressure/high density plasma sources that are scalable to large areas with precisely controlled and uniform plasma density profiles. The proposed Rotating-Field Plasma Source (RFPS) is a new type of source that is expected to meet the demanding requirements for etching and processing at feature sizes <0.5Ķm. The RFPS relies on a novel high-frequency rotating magnetic field drive concept to generate and shape the plasma density in a way that will not be affected by insertion of semiconductor wafers. It is expected to operate over a pressure range of 0.1-10 mtorr with reactive gases. The specific objectives of Phase I are to: (1) design and assemble a Phase I RFPS feasibility experiment; (2) perform experiments to demonstrate plasma generation with controlled uniformity; and (3) develop the conceptual design for a laboratory prototype RFPS system to be operated in a commercial etching system in Phase II. A major dry etch equipment supplier has expressed great interest in the RFPS concept and will participate in Phase I. This project contributes to National Critical Technologies in the Microelectronics and Optielectronics area.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: This project will provide a superior method for generating well-controlled plasmas for a wide range of semiconductor materials processing applications. The RFPS advantages include: (1) scalable to wafer diameters of >400 mm with good uniformity; (2) excellent controllability; and (3) low capital and maintenance costs. This source will substantially enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry.

246. High-Speed, In-Line Gas Monitoring for Control of Gas Mixing in CVD Systems
Advanced Fuel Research &
On-Line Technologies (Joint Venture)
87 Church St.
P.O. Box 380379
East Hartford, CT 06138-0379
tel: 860-528-9806; fax: 860-528-0648
e-mail: chnelson@alumni.caltech.edu
Principal Investigator: Dr. Chad M. Nelson
President: Dr. Peter R. Solomon
NSF Grant No. 9660463; Amount: $74,889

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop a high-speed, in-line gas monitor for control of gas mixing in chemical vapor deposition systems. CVD has emerged as an important fabrication technique for advanced semiconducting and optoelectronic thin film materials. Without real-time monitoring and closed loop control of the growth chemistry, it is extremely difficult to fabricate structures with multilayered and graded compositional profiles. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy has been demonstrated for process monitoring and recent innovations have improved the ruggedness and signal-to-noise ratio while reducing the size, weight, and cost of commercial instruments. In many applications, however, a long optical pathlength is required to achieve the desired measurement sensitivity. The use of standard, long-path "White" cells can significantly increase the pathlength while simultaneously increasing the sampled volume. This increased volume can increase the response time from spectral measurement and date analysis time to the time it takes to fill the cell with a representative sample, which can be on the order of several minutes. This project will develop a fast-response, in-line optical system to be used in conjunction with an advanced FT-IR spectrometer to provide real-time process and quality control in low flow systems such as CVD reactors.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: In addition to process and quality control in CVD and other chemical reactors, the proposed analysis system will be capable of rapid measurement (<1 sec) of other gases such as automobile exhaust, waste-site effluents, and fugitive emissions. The rapid response time will improve the efficacy of FT-IR and other spectroscopic techniques for detecting process upsets, fires, explosive atmospheres, and hazardous workplace conditions.

247. Advanced Metal Film Polishing Planarization Process Control
Endpoint Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 4408
Warren, NJ 07059
tel: 805-782-5453; fax: 805-541-6425
e-mail: erobot@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Wallace T. Tang
President: Wallace T. Tang
NSF Grant No. 9660853; Amount: $73,500

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop an advanced process monitoring technique for the Chemical Mechanical Polishing (CMP) metal planarization process. CMP planarization was primarily developed in the semiconductor industry in response to depth of focus budget problems and multilevel metalization problems.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: Semiconductor manufacturing, micromachining.

248. Diffusion Resistant, High Purity Wafer Carriers
Materials Focus, Inc.
2100 N. Wilmot Rd. #214
Tucson, AZ 85712
tel: 520-885-2239; fax: 520-885-2267
Principal Investigator: Lori A. Leaskey
President: Lori A. Leaskey
NSF Grant No. 9661246; Amount: $75,000

In the processing of Si wafers for semiconductor applications, it is critical that contamination by undesirable metal ions be avoided. A major source of impurities has been identified as the wafer carriers used in the high temperature processing. Although carriers with high purity surfaces are available, with use the surface purity levels significantly decrease because: (1) higher purity CVD coatings spall and exposure lower purity bulk material and/or (2) contaminants in the bulk diffuse with time and temperature to the surface.

At wafer processing temperatures above ≈1100˚C, SiC-Si carriers are used. The presence of Si increases the potential for contamination due to the high diffusion coefficients of many metal ions through Si, which are often many orders of magnitude greater than for SiC. It would be desirable to replace the Si phase with a component through which ion mobility is decreased. An innovative composite is proposed that has the potential for long-term use without contamination and improved mechanical properties. The components will be completely analyzed for relevant properties including purity and mechanical properties. Demonstration of fabrication of high quality components would lead to more extensive analyses of prototype components to determine long-term performance in Phase II.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The main application would be as diffusion components to be used in semiconductor processing. The composites could also be fabricated with lower purity levels and used for applications requiring high temperature, corrosion resistant materials such as engine and heat exchanger components.

249. Frequency-Quadrupled Diode Laser Atomic Absorption-Based Flux Controller
Physical Sciences Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810-1077
tel: 978-689-0003; fax: 978-689-3232
e-mail: kessler@psicorp.com
Principal Investigator: William J. Kessler
President: Michael L. Finson
NSF Grant No. 9661283; Amount: $74,997

Increasingly complex nanoscale electronic devices require that production facilities maintain fine control of the atomic and molecular fluxes during the fabrication process (e.g., MBE, CVD). This requires the development of a new class of flux monitors which are species specific and capable of the precision and accuracy needed for depositing single atomic layers. Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) proposes to combine ultra-sensitive optical absorption spectroscopy and frequency-quadrupled diode laser light sources for the development of an atomic mass flux sensor for semiconductor fabrication. PSI has recently demonstrated sensitive mass flux measurements by recording velocity and number density measurements of molecular oxygen molecules in an aeropropulsion field demonstration. PSI proposes to apply the same technique to atomic species by developing and demonstrating a frequency-quadrupled diode laser source in a compact and tunable configuration suitable for various atomic flux measurements. During the Phase I program, ultra-sensitive dopant atomic concentration measurements will be demonstrated using a heat pipe atom source. Mass flux measurements and control will be demonstrated in Phase II in atomic flows produced by an MBE oven source. The flux sensor/controller prototype demonstration will be applicable to a wide variety of both atomic and molecular species flux measurements.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee:The proposed sensor will advance the state-of-the-art for the control of atomic mass flux during fabrication of electronic devices. The sensor will also be applicable to molecular species by changing the laser source wavelength and thus will be applicable to MBE variants and manufacturing via MOCVD. Additional markets may be found in industrial process controls, aeropropulsion applications, and environmental monitoring.

250. Novel Low Dielectric Constant Materials
Ionic Systems, Inc.
1400 N. Shoreline Blvd., Bldg. A4
Mountain View, CA 94043-1346
tel: 650-961-4800; fax: 650-961-4003
e-mail: kubacki@ionic.com
Principal Investigator: Ronald M. Kubacki
President: Ronald M. Kubacki
NSF Grant No. 9661312; Amount: $74,879.01

We propose the investigation of plasma polymerized materials based on organosilicon synthesis for producing a new class of low k dielectrics. The semiconductor industryís need for an insulating material with a low dielectric constant is clear. The need arises from the fact that chip speed is limited by the resistance of the mtal line and the surrounding insulator. Dielectrics today have a constant of 4 to 3.2. Higher chip speeds require a switch to a new type of material, very possibly a plastic-like organic. Such materials could reduce dielectric constants to 2.0 or lower.

The U.S. market for low k dielectrics is estimated to be 2 billion dollars by the year 2000. The goal of the push to low k dielectrics is to reduce capacitance. Reducing capacitance also minimizes crosstalk between adjacent metal lines, an increasingly severe problem.

The global market for dielectrics is growing. Low k dielectrics are applicable to a broad spectrum of applications sensitive to ever finer geometries, crosstalk, and higher frequencies.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: IC manufacture to enable faster devices, for high density MCMs with high density interconnects and less crosstalk for computers, for high frequency devices used in the telecommunications industry by allowing greater design latitude and better performance on high frequency devices. The all plasma deposited low k dielectric could provide a strong competitive advantage in both cost and performance.

251. Development of a Cell Controller for Epitaxial Silicon Fabrication
On-Line Technologies, Inc.
87 Church Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
tel: 860-291-0719; fax: 860-289-7975
e-mail: prosenth@afr-olt.com
Principal Investigator: Dr. Peter A. Rosenthal
President: Dr. Peter R. Solomon
NSF Grant No. 9661592; Amount: $74,939

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will develop the technology for closed loop process control in semiconductor device fabrication. In current practice, fixed set point control is used for process steps. Here, reactor recipes are set so that a parameter value (as determined by measurements on 1 in 25 or 1 in 50 wafers) matches a target specification, and the process is run until the parameter value is outside preset limit. Then the process is stopped and the reactor is retuned. This practice results in down time for process retuning, scrapped material that is produced before the process is stopped (often the measurement are not made immediately), and wider variations in the product specifications than necessary. Higher quality products, with tighter specifications produced at lower cost, with reduced scrap can be achieved by the application of closed loop process control in which measurements are made on every wafer, and recipe changes are continuously made to keep the wafer state parameters on target. The objective of this project is to develop the technology for wafer-by-wafer control in the fabrication of epitaxial silicon. On-Line Technologies, Inc. (On-Line) has developed a thin film metrology (TFM) tool that integrates with the fabrication tool for epitaxial silicon (epi), allowing the measurement of the quality of every epi film produced without any delay in the process. Work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed the data analysis and control algorithms which can be employed in a cell controller. Phase I will develop a cell controller that integrates an Applied Materials, Inc. Centura epi fabrication tool, and MITís analysis and control algorithms. This system will be used to demonstrate improvement in the epi thickness specifications using wafer-by-wafer control of the deposition time. Phase I will provide the foundation for a cell controller to be constructed and tested in Phase II that will control the complete fabrication recipe to ensure both eip thickness precision and uniformity.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The implementation of closed loop control can provide parameter specification improvements of factors of 2 to 10 without requiring any improvement in the fabrication tool. This improvement in product quality can be achieved with increased tool availability, reduced scrap, and lower personnel costs. The proposed technology will be applicable to fabrication tools with a total value of $9.6 billion/yr. in the year 2000. The cost for metrology is predicted to be 10 percent of the fabrication tool cost, or $960 million/yr. A market of similar size is expected for the cell controllers that will compliment and add significantly to the value of the metrology tools.

252. Process-Control Instrument for Multi-Chamber Platforms
Active Impulse Systems, Inc.
49 Orchard Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
tel: 617-928-9518; fax: 617-969-9679
e-mail: mbanet9737@aol.com
Principal Investigator: Matthew John Banet, Ph.D.
President: John Hanselman
NSF Grant No. 9661652; Amount: $74,884

This Small Business Phase I project will provide an improved process-control instrument for increasing yields and identifying defective product in microelectronic device fabrication. The proposed instrument will monitor fabrication processes performed in multi-chamber environments that are rapidly becoming the standard in microelectronics fabrication.

Multi-chamber platforms include a central wafer-handling housing connected at it facets to different fabrication tools (e.g., DVD and etching chambers); the housing and the connected tools are kept under vacuum. A single platform performs multiple process steps. Unfortunately, the same features that make the platforms advantageous also make it difficult to perform process control. For example, most conventional metrology tools cannot measure wafers within the platform.

To meet the fabrication industryís demand for real-time process control instruments, Active Impulse Systems, Inc. proposes to develop and test and all-optical, small-scale process-control instrument. This instrument will remotely determine; (1) the thickness of opaque (e.g., metal) and transparent (e.g., oxide) films; (2) adhesion vs. delamination of opaque and transparent films; (3) viscoelastic properties of films and substrates; (4) thermal diffusivity of films and substrates; and (5) ion implant levels of silicon wafers and epitaxially grown films.

The potential commercial applications as described by the awardee: The proposed instrument has applications in the microelectronics industry, particularly in the area of metrology and process control.