Montana Board of Research & Commercialization Technology
Commercialization of BmJ as a Broad Spectrum Microbial Plant Disease Control Agent
BmJ was licensed to CERTIS USA in the spring of 2012 to develop and commercialize new plant disease control technologies. The reemergence of Potato Virus Y (PVY) in potato seed stock prompted the US EPA to grant a Section 18 Emergency Exemption to the Montana Department of Agriculture for use of BmJ to control PVY on up to 2,675 acres of seed potatoes. Manufactured by Certis USA, BmJ contains Bacillus mycoides isolate J, a bacterium discovered by Montana State University in collaboration with Montana BioAgriculture Inc. of Missoula. This bacterium has shown to trigger a plant's immune response to pathogenic fungi, bacteria and viruses. It has been tested nationwide with excellent results on pecans, tomato, potato and spinach. Products that can produce this response represent an advancement in the management of pests and plant diseases.
Research and Commercialization of the SepticNet Nutrient Removal Technology
Water & Environmental Technologies, PC (WET), Butte, received funding to research, develop, and commercialize a superior nutrient elimination technology for on-site septic systems resulting in a new commercial product called SepticNET and a new company called SepticNET, Inc. SepticNET is an innovative, modular septic treatment system designed for use with new home construction, as an upgrade to existing on-site septic systems, or as a complete small community wastewater treatment system. Since completion of the MBRCT project, SepticNET has received two patents and has gained Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) approval as a Level 2 wastewater treatment system. SepticNET is approved for an effluent total nitrogen concentration of <7.5 mg/L with no limitations on flow rates and no nitrate mixing zones. It is the only MDEQ approved technology capable of achieving that level of treatment for wastewater flows ranging from single family houses up to small communities. SepticNET is currently available in pre-designed residential and small community systems ranging from 500 gallons-per-day (gpd) to 10,000 gpd. SepticNET was invented, developed, tested and is currently being manufactured in Butte.
Sonographic Analysis for Rapid Detection of Varroa Mites and Other Pathologies without Opening the Beehive
Bee Alert Technology has brought the Honey Bee Acoustic Scanner to market and is selling the device for detection of bee diseases, mites, and other pests in bee colonies. The technology was initially developed for the United States Army for detection of honey bee colony exposure to toxic chemicals. Using USDA and MBRCT grants, the functionality was expanded for use in healthy bee management. The hand-held scanner has a low power, compact, single board, Linux ARM processor, with 8 to 32 GB of data storage, and ultrasonic audio capture capability. The same processor is being incorporated into Bee Alert's newest Smart Hive modules and is compatible with a wide variety of 5 to 12V sensors allowing for real-time, always on, monitoring of bee colony health. Plant and Food Research in New Zealand is a recent purchaser of the Honey Bee Acoustic Scanner.
Accelerated Development of Two Gene-Imidazolinone-Tolerant Wheat Varieties for Montana
A new variety, WB9879CLP, was released to growers for the first time in 2012 in a collaborative effort involving Westbred (a subsidiary of Monsanto) and Montana State University. This new variety is the first Clearfield spring wheat variety with resistance to the wheat stem sawfly. WB9879CLP was developed by crossing two genes for resistance to the imidazolinone class of herbicide into the popular variety Choteau using marker-assisted selection. Testing conducted at field sites around Montana showed that WB9879CLP has excellent yield potential as well as herbicide resistance. A Plant Variety Protection application has been filed for this new variety.
Non-Structural Adhesives Requiring no Volatile Organic Compounds
Specialty Biopolymers LLC, Bozeman, has developed an environmentally-friendly wood adhesive as a result of this project. The company offers unique adhesive formulations based on microbially derived polymers and produced from renewable resources. The adhesives are VOC-free, non-toxic, and biodegradable. The products are offered online. One product is currently being evaluated by an overseas biotechnology company for multiple applications other than as an adhesive.
Value-Added Crop Development for Irrigated and Dryland Production in Eastern Montana
This project developed at Eastern Agricultural Research Center/Montana State University, Sidney, identified best durum, malt barley and safflower varieties and best production systems to add crop value for producers and end users in Eastern Montana. "Silver" durum was released by Montana State University in January 2012. This durum variety is early-maturing and day-length insensitive in contrast to all other varieties grown in Montana, which are day-length sensitive and result in later maturity. Because of its day-length insensitive characteristic, "Silver" durum can be grown in any part of Montana and matures at a normal time.
Durum with Low-Cadmium Uptake for Production in Montana
The objective of this study at Eastern Agricultural Research Center/Montana State University, Sidney, was to produce improved durum germplasm for development of varieties with low-cadmium uptake for Montana producers. Cadmium is a nonessential heavy metal that may cause health problems for some people and diet is the main source of Cd in non-smokers. Barilla, the largest pasta company in the world, became interested in Montana durum because of the low-cadmium program at EARC. The company wants only low cadmium durum. It contracted durum acres in the MonDak region for the first time in 2011. The number of acres expanded in 2012, and this trend is expected to continue.
High Value Crop Research and Demonstration Project to Promote Irrigation Development in Eastern Montana
The intent of this project at Eastern Agricultural Research Center/Montana State University, Sidney, was to promote sugarbeet, potato, alfalfa and vegetable crop production, processing, and marketing as part of a regional effort of growers, economic development groups, agri-businesses, brokers and processors to create new wealth and jobs in this region of Eastern Montana. Commercialization successes of the project include:
- Sugarbeets Nearly all the sugarbeets produced in the lower Yellowstone River Valley are Roundup Ready, greatly improving weed control. Because of this research, more and more growers are switching from flood irrigation to overhead sprinkler irrigation systems, resulting in less water use for the same high quality of sugarbeet. Additionally, research at the EARC has shown that overhead sprinkler irrigation systems result in less leaching and run-off than flood irrigation. This project has developed production management technologies for high-value crop production under overhead sprinkler systems as well as under flood irrigation.
- Potatoes A new red skin, yellow flesh variety of potatoes, named MonDak Gold, is in the test marketing stage for French fries, chips, and alternative market channels of local cuisine, western dining, new menu applications, quick service restaurants, as well as the processing and fresh markets. This variety is also currently undergoing seed potato increase for commercial production in Montana and North Dakota. Research supported by this project has sustained the yearly commercial production of 1,200-1,500 acres of French fry potatoes in the MonDak region and the startup of the Enander certified potato seed farm near Westby, Montana.
High Performance Biobased Motor Oils from Vegetable Oil Estolides
Biosynthetic Technologies, LLC (formerly Peaks and Prairies/LubriGreen), a Malta-based company, holds exclusive rights to patented technology that converts fatty acids found in plant and animal oils into high performance synthetic lubricant base oils. These "biosynthetic" base oils exhibit many superior characteristics compared with petroleum lubricant oils. Several of the world's largest manufacturers of automotive and industrial lubricants have tested the company's biosynthetic oils extensively and are formulating and certifying finished products to market under their brand names. The chief formulator of a company with over 10% of the motor oil market share stated these oils are "the most exciting products to enter the lubricants industry since the introduction of synthetic lubricants 50 years ago". First mover advantage and patented technology make Biosynthetic Technologies a market leader in development of sustainable products for use in the $140 billion lubricants industry. Companies that have purchased the biosynthetic base oil include Lubrizol, an Ohio-based additives company, and Green Bulldog, based in Houston, Texas. A pilot plant is underway with anticipated completion summer 2013. The company recently closed a $14 million round of funding from BP and Monsanto.
Accelerated Development of Solid-Stemmed Wheat Varieties
The goal of this project developed at Montana State University was to use molecular markers to develop new solid-stemmed wheat varieties. Varieties with solid stems are widely used in Montana to help control the wheat stem sawfly. One target for the program was the variety Norpro, a high-yielding but sawfly-susceptible variety developed by the private company Syngenta (Agripro). A solid-stemmed version of this variety was developed through this grant, and transferred to Agripro for further development and commercialization. A new variety, named Sy Tyra, is marketed for the first time in 2012 for sawfly-infested areas of Montana. Sy Tyra provides a much-needed option for Montana growers faced with infestation by the wheat stem sawfly.
Absolute Calibration of a CW-FM LADAR Length Metrology System
This project has helped Bridger Photonics (Bozeman) commercialize its SLM Series precision length metrology and LADAR Systems. BP's systems are capable of measuring length and thickness with better resolution than any other system known. For short ranges (<2 meters), the system is being used as a tool for the Industrial Metrology, where it measures lengths and thicknesses to sub-nanometer precisions. For long ranges (up to 10 km), and with kHz update rates, BP's system is ideal for object identification, where it can resolve surfaces with millimeter separations and lead to the highest resolution 3D imagery available.
Intelligent Proppant (iProppant) - Activation of Solid State Reaction Mechanisms in Ceramic Proppant Material as a Method to Modify Fracture Path Flow
eProcess Technologies (Butte) successfully leveraged MBRCT funding to develop the next generation multiphase hydrocyclone. This product was a spin-off from marketing proppant technology when feedback from the customers showed large market potential for removal of proppant and sand from oil and gas well fluids. The eProcess Wellhead Desander (eWHD) is designed to ASME/API standards and is suitable from 150# to 15K design pressures. The optimized flow path results in compact removal of proppant, sand, and solids from well fluids containing 0-100% gas void fraction. The unit operates at 10-60 psi pressure drop and can remove solids down to 5 micron. Solids are removed at the wellhead, which prevents erosion of chokes, flow lines, control valves, and process equipment.
Innovative Fiber Optic Power Meter
ILX Lightwave Corporation (Bozeman) successfully utilized MBRCT funding to develop a next generation fiber optic power meter that offers the photonic industry's lowest polarization dependent response (PDR). This meter is used by leading fiber optic component manufacturers throughout the world to manufacture and test high performance components such as fiber optic couplers, splitters, and amplifiers. Technology developed with MBRCT funding led to the development of a unqiue optical integration sphere configuration that exhibits utlra low PDR while reducing manufacturing cost compared to prior designs. The company has implemented the new integrating sphere technology into two new sensor heads that are offered in conjunction with the company's new FPM-8210 Fiber Optic Power Meter.
Research Support for Standardizing a Comprehensive Biofilm Efficacy Test System
BioSurface Technologies Corporation, a Bozeman specialty biotech manufacturing company, in collaboration with the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University, recently completed a MBRCT cooperative research project to develop specialty tools for the manipulation of biofilm samples. The company manufactures and sells bio-reactors and imaging flow cells dedicated to the growth, testing, and study of biofilms (microbiological cells and products attached to surfaces). This niche area of microbiology has wide-ranging applications in various industries, including medical/dental, environmental, energy, and home products. The tools developed aide the researcher and technician in the manipulation of multiple test samples during laboratory experiments. The tools were designed to increase productivity while decreasing the fatigue associated with multiple sample manipulations. These tools are currently marketed in conjunction with the bio-reactor systems manufactured by BioSurface Technologies Corporation and sold worldwide.
Hyperspectral Sensor for Large-Area Monitoring of Carbon-Dioxide Reservoirs and Pipelines
Resonon, Inc., a Bozeman company devoted to optical instrumentation, is advancing its compact, airborne hyperspectral imaging system with funding from MBRCT. This effort has enabled numerous improvements to the system, including upgrades in the flight computer, more reliable data acquisition software, and testing of a down-welling sensor. This effort is also augmenting a Department of Energy funded project developed to monitor the impacts of underground carbon-dioxide pipeline leaks with the Repasky group at Montana State University. Results indicate the system has potential for pipeline leak monitoring. Project results have helped Resonon obtain new funding for airborne hyperspectral imaging systems and have led to sales to a major agricultural company and to foreign and U.S. research institutions.
Improving Productivity and Value of Wheat for Montana
Information obtained from this work, conducted under the direction of Dr. Mike Giroux, Montana State University, Bozeman, was used to develop a new wheat variety, named Vida, in honor of the beautiful town in the midst of spring wheat country in eastern Montana. Vida was grown on 350,000 acres in Montana in 2010. Conservatively estimating a two bushel/acre yield increase over existing varieties, this resulted in 700,000 extra bushels of wheat for sale in 2010. At $6 per bushel, this is additional direct income of $4.2 million due to this variety in 2010.
Development of a Nerve Stimulation System for Clinical Use in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management
Nervonix, Inc., Bozeman, has recently licensed its patented, peripheral nerve block needle for anesthesia to Life-Tech, Inc. The StimPro line of needles was initially developed by Nervonix and Strategix, a Bozeman industrial design firm, with funding from MBRCT to Nervonix. Philip C. Cory, MD, was the principal investigator. The device is available in three configurations (ProBloc, ProLong, and ContiStim). Its advantages include putting the physician in control of needle placement, stabilization, and injection, while maintaining sterile technique and eliminating the need for an assistant. Life-Tech is a global medical device company with in-house manufacturing in Houston, TX.
Life-Tech provides premier systems, consumables, and services for physicians and scientific researchers around the world. The company has begun taking orders and shipping product.
Development of Seed Treatment Procedure for Carex, Scirpus, and Eleocharis Species
Great Bear Restoration (GBR), of Hamilton, has completed a MBRCT project to develop new germination techniques for wetland plant species. Several wetland species are difficult to grow with exacting germination requirements. GBR has developed a proprietary seed treatment process which increased and synchronized germination of wetland species for use on a commercial scale. In addition, the project reduced risks to agricultural workers and reduced the waste stream created by the process. The project has resulted in sales for wetland species applications.
Autonomous Flow Through (AFT) Instrument for CO2 and pH
Developed by Sunburst Sensors, LLC of Missoula, with the assistance of the MBRCT and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the AFT Instrument allows researchers to perform shipboard or bench-top analysis of CO2 and/or pH of a sample stream. The AFT can support other instruments (e.g. salinity or oxyen sensors) as well as log position via a connected GPS unit. Shipboard use of the system allows for mapping of surface water chemistry. The autonomous aspect of the instrument allows it to operate on its own, logging data. It can also be connected to a laptop computer to provide real-time data.
Acoustic Sensor System for Protection of Borders and perimeters of High Value Assets
Adelos Inc. (formerly TerraEchos Inc.), Missoula, a controlled subsidiary of S&K Technologies, exclusively licensed technology from the U.S. Navy. A MBRCT grant was used to complete a prototype of the company's Adelos S4 sensor system and demonstrate the system's ability to detect specific phenomena that produce pressure waves on the fiber optic array. These field demonstrations allowed for specific U.S. Navy licensing milestones to be achieved as per the U.S. Navy licensing agreement. Funding from other sources has allowed the company to continue technology development and commence selling advanced prototype systems for U.S. Government Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation programs against specific security requirements.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Deployment of Hyperspectral Imaging Spectrometers for Noxious Weed Mapping and Carbon Sequestration Site Monitoring
Funding from MBRCT has allowed researchers at Montana State University, under the direction of Kevin Repasky, to team up with Resonon, a Bozeman optics company, to develop flight based hyperspectral imaging techniques for large area mapping of noxious weeds and carbon sequestration site monitoring. This project addressed the adverse affect noxious weeds have on Montana's economy and the serious issue involved when carbon dioxide is released into the atomosphere during use of coal for power generation. The successful completion of this project has led to the sale by Resonon of a flight-based hyperspectral imaging system to be used as a payload for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle based environmental monitoring.
Developing a High-Power, Fiber-Coupled, Electro-Optic Amplitude Modulator
AdvR (Bozeman) develops, manufactures, and sells engineered optical crystals and forward integrated photonic products. The overall goal of the projects pursued using MBRCT grants has been to significantly advance AdvR technology to enable production of commercial products. Early funding allowed the company to develop its engineered crystals for use in industrial, university, and government laboratories. Continued funding allowed the development of the packaging of these materials for ease of use and to create a wider customer base. The sales history of products directly linked to these efforts is shown in the accompanying graph, which highlights the accelerating revenue growth of AdvR photonic crystals, some of which are supplied in fiber-in, fiber-out packages. Early development of these packages was accomplished through MBRCT funding.
Development of New Products for the Field Detection of Pathogens
Products developed in the course of MBRCT funding under the direction of Brenda Spangler at SensoPath Technologies (Bozeman) have entered the commercial market. Diagnostic kits using fluorescent microspheres are being developed by several SensoPath customers as Point-of-Care kits for home and office use to detect pathogens, including flu viruses, Adeno virus, Herpes virus, Swine flu virus, and bacterial pathogens. SensoPath Technologies is a research and development company focused on developing new diagnostic approaches to the detection and identification of pathogens and pathogenic agents using both the fluorescent microspheres in Point-of-Care kits and specially designed linkers for biosensor surfaces.
OsteoSelect Demineralized Bone Matrix Putty for Orthopedic Bone Grafting Applications
Under the direction of Dr. Gregory Juda, Bacterin International, Inc. (Belgrade) has developed and commercialized an allograft based bone void filler for surgical bone grafting applications. MBRCT funding was essential to the concept development and preclinical studies of this Class II medical device. The OsteoSelect product is comprised of donated human bone tissue and a polymer component designed to improve the handling characteristics during surgical applications. When implanted into a surgical site, the product will induce bone formation at the graft site. Submission of a premarket approval application was completed in May, 2009 and regulatory approval was granted by the FDA in September, 2009. Bacterin distributed the first product units for transplantation in December, 2009. OsteoSelect is the first tissue-based medical device approved and marketed by Bacterin International, an FDA and American Association of Tissue Banks registered processor and distributor of donated musculoskeletal allograft tissue.
Collaborative Research Applications of Innovative Protein Fluorescence Lifetime Spectrometer
Dr. Greg Gillispie and his team at Fluorescence Innovations, Inc. (FI2) in Bozeman have successfully commercialized an innovative fluorescence lifetime spectrometer, which was developed in part with MBRCT funding. The first customer is the University of Minnesota-Duluth, which will use the instrument to study membrane proteins involved in exocytosis. The University of Kansas plans to use its instrument to develop pharmaceutical formulations. Based on data obtained in collaborative studies with FI2, Montana State University (MSU) wrote a successful National Science Foundation grant proposal. The grant will fund further development and production of two systems for MSU. Compared to other instruments in the market place, the FI2 approach produces lifetime data 100 times faster and with 10 times better repeatability. For intrinsic fluorescence studies of proteins, the tunable ultraviolet laser source developed by FI2 only requires 10% of the bench space that competitor instruments need.
Immobilized Metal Polyamine Composites (IMPACS) for Removal and Recovery of Negatively Charged Species from Contaminated Waters and Mine Leaches
Dr. Edward Rosenberg, at the University of Montana, in collaboration with Purity Systems (PSI), Missoula, has advanced this project to the development of the commercial Immobilized Metal Polyamine Composite (IMPAC), ZrBPAP. Ammtec Ltd., an internationally recognized metallurgical testing firm specializing in mining, metals processing, and environmental remediation on mine sites, has become a minority owner in PSI. Ammtec is now marketing and testing this composite for arsenic and selenium remediation and remediation of the carcinogenic chromate ion. The technology is directed at positively charged ions and represents a new direction for supramolecular silica polyamine composite materials. Initial commercialization of earlier work funded by MBRCT has occurred at the Redbank Mines copper recovery project in Australia using PSI's copper selective composite, CuWRAM. Redbank Mines, Ltd. has engaged Ammtec to coordinate and implement the process, which is based on proprietary technology under license from PSI.
S2 Material Based Frequency Stable Laser (S2-FSL) Technology Development for Coherent Optical Communications
Commercialization of Low Vibration Cryocooler Technology
Under the direction of Kris Merkel, S2 Corporation, Bozeman, has developed, and is producing, a novel vibration dampening module for cryo-coolers to meet the needs of a customer base which requires sensitive measurements. This unique product has performance specifications which far exceed those of commercial cryo-cooler vendors. Markets include industry and research in spectroscopy, signal processing, quantum computing, academic institutions and other research or scientific studies. S2 Corporation is working with two commercial vendors of cryo-coolers, Janis Research Corporation and Cryomech, and can retrofit either of these systems with its module. S2 has sold commercial units to Montana State University and the University of Otago in New Zealand. This low vibration product is a direct result of work funded by MBRCT and the U.S. Navy.
Second Stage Field Clinical Trials & Bringing to Market of a Natural OTC ("Kre-Celazine") to Treat Chronic Inflammation
Jeff Golini, President of All American Pharmaceutical & Natural Foods Manufacturing, Billings, utilized MBRCT funding to conduct additional research on Kre-Celazine (TM), including human field trials. The research findings demonstrated that Kre-Celazine (TM) is safe and effective, and led to the filing of one patent pending. Two additional patents are in the process of being written. Millions of Americans have problems with chronic inflammation and are seeking alternatives to prescription medications. Kre-Celazine (TM) is sold as a pH controlled anti-inflammatory neutraceutical for use in addressing flexibility, joint mobility and inflammation.
Commercialization of Miniature Lasers: Evolving from Research and Development to Production
The results of the project, directed by Christopher Palassis, are being commercialized in various AdvR products, all of which have features developed under this project, including coupling laser light into an engineered photonic crystal (EPC), mounting and controlling the environment of the EPC, and providing an outer housing. Modules in which improvements to laser light coupling have been incorporated into EPC packages are being sold to industrial and government customers. This is one of several MBRCT grants received by AdvR that have played a significant role in its development as a high technology firm in Bozeman.
Improving Productivity and Value of Wheat for Montana
This project resulted in release and deployment of new winter wheat cultivars adapted to Montana. Under Dr. Mike Giroux's leadership at Montana State University, Bozeman, four single-gene, imidazolinone-resistant winter wheat cultivars were developed. MT1159CL, the first herbicide resistant cultivar released in 2004, was replaced by the improved cultivars, Norris, Hyalite, and Bynum, which were released in 2005. Westbred LLC has licensed the technology for marketing and production in Montana. Over 60,000 acres of production of one-gene winter wheat varieties were planted in Montana in 2008.
Development of Disposable and Reusable Acoustic Bioreactors
Resodyn Acoustic Mixers, Inc., an affiliate of Resodyn Corporation, has developed an innovative patented technology called Resonant-Acoustic (R) Mixing (RAM). This technology utilizes low-frequency, high-intensity acoustic energy to process difficult-to-mix compounds found in many industries such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, coatings and plastics. Under the direction of Todd McAdams, this project uses RAM technology to greatly improve the performance of cell culture bioreactors, which are important tools in the pharmaceutical industry used to produce some of the most effective and also costly new therapeutic drugs. Improved performance of these bioreactors has the potential to lead to both faster development times for new drugs and lower production costs. These research funds enabled Resodyn to expand its RAM intellectual property and have improved the company's ability to sell laboratory and production scale mixers.
Camelina Sativa: A Low-Input Oil Crop for Omega-3 Culinary Oil and Animal Feeds
Alice Pilgeram, Montana State University, Bozeman, was the Principal Investigator on this project to scale up production of Camelina sativa in Montana and develop, process and market high omega-3 culinary oils and animal feeds. Camelina oil has applications in human foods, animal feeds, cosmetics, and biofuel. The largest consumer of Montana camelina oil is the biodiesel industry. Camelina utilization is expanding in other markets. The oil is marketed as a pet supplement under the brand name OmegaDog and is distributed by PetCo, Inc. Additional camelina dog products are available from smaller online distributors. Camelina meal is the byproduct of oil extraction and has been evaluated in animal feeds for production of omega-3 rich eggs, dairy, beef and pork. FDA GRAS approval of camelina meal for broiler feed was announced in March 2009. Further approvals are expected in 2009 and 2010. Two new varieties of Camelina sativa (Blaine Creek and Suneson ) were developed by Dr. Duane Johnson and released by the MSU Foundation and Seed Program in 2007. These varieties are more adapted to Montana and outyield the older European varieties. Several additional varieties are being developed for specialty markets (e.g. biodiesel, omega-3 food and feeds, and sprouts).
Innovative Native Seed Harvester
Lee and Maggie Arbuckle and colleagues at Native Seedsters, Inc. (NSI) used rapid prototyping techniques to develop two models of a native grass seed harvester, the Arbuckle Native Seedster. Seedster technology was specifically developed to increase seed harvest efficiency of the most difficult to harvest native grass species. The role of native grass for reclaiming disturbed lands and biofuel is well documented. An important example is switchgrass with potential for millions of acres as ethanol feedstock. After release in late 2007, Seedsters were sold to a switchgrass research facility and a Nebraska seed producer. In 2008 NSI contracted with Ceres, Inc. to design and build several units of a specialized switchgrass seed harvester. A second MBRCT grant supported analysis of morphological characteristics of native grasses that contribute to seed harvest difficulties and efficiency. A database was developed that exhibits the key morphological characteristics of 197 species of native grass seed that are commercially traded in the continental United States.
Research and Development of Biobased Products from Montana Grown Oil Seed Crops
Paul Miller and David Tooke, Sustainable Systems, Inc. , Missoula, developed an ultra low VOC wood stain/sealer for exterior wood surfaces. EcoSeal (tm) is made from more than 80% Montana grown and processed oilseeds. The product capitalizes on the market swing away from wood coating and preservative products that release VOCs and toward more environmentally friendly formulations. EcoSeal (tm) is sold at Burleys Natural Home Supply and Home Resource in Missoula. Additional formulas for interior and deck stains/sealers are being developed and will be commercialized in the near future.
Biomimetic Floating Islands that Maximize Plant and Microbial Synergistic Relationships to Revitalize Degraded Fisheries, Wildlife Habitats, and Human Water Resources
The goal of this project, led by Frank Stewart and a research team at Floating Island International, Livingston/Bozeman/Billings, was to produce and market a biomimetic, self-sustaining floating island for remediation of degraded fisheries, wildlife habitats, and human water resources. Existing anecdotal evidence indicates numerous benefits of floating islands for improving water quality. The purpose of the research project was to quantify and optimize the effectiveness of the islands for removing excess nutrients and other contaminants from lakes, streams and oceans. The islands are being marketed to commercial landscapers and municipal wastewater facilities primarily for water quality remediation testing. The data generated by this project was an important factor in the sale of a floating island to a wholesale distributor in New Zealand.
Lasers Stabilized to Spectral Holes in Rare Earth Crystals
Dr. Rufus Cone and his research team at MSU Bozeman developed ultra-stable lasers with purity and stability to 13-digit accuracy. Special rare earth crystal frequency references were developed, and the crystals were grown by Scientific Materials Corporation, Bozeman. These crystals were used to make the most accurate measurements ever recorded of light absorption frequencies in any crystal of any kind by any laboratory. S2 Corporation, Bozeman, a spin-off from Scientific Materials, has been contracted by Northrop Grumman as the sole-source provider of a turn key stable laser system, and the successful development and delivery of that system may lead to a significant commercial market for the made-in-Montana device. Applications for ultra-stable lasers include: compact stable continuous wave lasers for S2 CHIP and other S2 devices to precision vibrometers and metrology devices; secondary optical frequency standards using persistent spectral holes as references; compact stable mode locked lasers that can provide periodic trains of optical pulses and optical clocks; and, mode locked lasers which have new uses in material characterization and system development.
Biological Treatment of Animal Wastes by Endophytic Fungi and "Mycofumigation"
Phillips Environmental Products, Belgrade, produces an innovative compact dry toilet system. A core product of the company is the WAG (Waste Alleviation Gel) bag, which fits into the PETT portable toilet and traps wastes. Phillips incorporates Earthpure, an important technology developed with the help of MBRCT funding, into this product line. Earthpure contains a composite of endophytic microbes, M. albus and F. culmorum, which decontaminate human/animal wastes and degrade organic matter, thus beginning the process of recycling. The fungus used by Phillips in the WAG bags is produced in mass at the Laverlam facility at Butte, Montana. Phillips has generated millions of dollars in revenues and hired an army of home assemblers in Belgrade and Fort Benton for assembly of major components used in the PETT and WAG bag systems. The concept of making a safe reliable system to dispose of human wastes is attractive to the military, emergency organizations, school systems, police workers, various government agencies, the United Nations, and outdoor suppliers.
Deployment of a Real-Time Coal Content/Ore Grade Sensor
The design and manufacture of imaging spectrometers is the central technology of Resonon, Inc., an electro-optic sensor company located in Bozeman. Funding from the Department of Energy and the Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology was used to develop a machine vision project for mining applications. This effort was under the direction of Rand Swanson in collaboration with faculty from Montana Tech of the University of Montana. Commercial sales of the spectrometer system and support services have generated significant revenues in a wide array of applications, including use of an imaging spectrometer for research involving snow and snow contamination.
Research Support for the Manufacturing and Marketing of the Drip Flow Biofilm Reactor
Darla Goeres, at the Center for Biofilm Engineering at MSU Bozeman, in collaboration with Bryan Warwood of BioSurface Technology Corporation (BST), Bozeman, received funding to develop the drip flow biofilm growth reactor into a commercial product. Biofilm consists of surface-associated bacteria embedded in a slime matrix. In the drip flow reactor, biofilm forms under low fluid shear close to the air/liquid interface. The reactor is useful for studying medically important biofilms, for instance the biofilm infection associated with cystic fibrosis. Other applications include biocide efficacy testing, microscopic imaging of the biofilm architecture and medical device evaluations. Increased demand for biofilm reactors has resulted in BioSurface Technologies hiring additional employees. Customers include testing and evaluation laboratories, government agencies, health industry suppliers, chemical companies and academic research institutions.
Development of an Oxygen-Consuming Biological Barrier to Prevent Oxidation of Pyritic Mine Tailings
This project combined laboratory and field research to successfully develop biofilm barrier technology, which prevents the oxidation of pyrite minerals and the subsequent generation of acid rock drainage originating from mine waste. Under the direction of Dr. Al Cunningham at the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University, and in collaboration with MSE Technology Applications, Inc. in Butte and Golden Sunlight Mine near Whitehall, this project has contributed to the growth and success of Center for Innovation, Inc. (CFI). Technology derived from this project is being commercialized by CFI, an employee ownership company developing technologies and providing services in the area of bioremediation. CFI, with its corporate office in Butte and an office and laboratory in Bozeman, provides biotechnology services to the Golden Sunlight Mine and to the EPA sponsored Mine Waste Technology Program.
Advanced Materials for Metal Processing, Recovery and Remediation
The project is a collaboration between Purity Systems Inc. (PSI) in Missoula and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Montana under the direction of Professor Edward Rosenberg. The research is directed at the development of new granular materials that allow more environmentally benign methods for metal processing and recovery, including acid mine drainage clean up. The effort has resulted in the development of two new resins, one for the selective removal of ferric ion from transition metal mixtures and from lanthanides, and one for the selective removal of gallium from aluminum, zinc and iron. Resin sales have been made for pilot demonstrations and PSI anticipates additional orders.
Specialty Mushroom Farming in Montana
Research for improving production methods for specialty mushroom farming in Montana, under the direction of Dr. Cathy Cripps, enabled Garden City Fungi, Missoula, to increase its productivity and profitability. A new more flavorful, market-quality, organic strain of Shiitake mushroom that grows in two-thirds of the time previously required was developed. Chefs throughout the Northwestern United States purchase and use this new strain. Using MSU strains, the company sells 5-pound mixed boxes of Garden City specialty mushrooms through food service companies to customers throughout Montana and North Central United States. Mushroom kits, which allow customers to grow and harvest their own edible mushrooms, use strains from the MSU collection and are available nationwide through Carolina Biological Supply.
A Real-Time Coal Content/Ore Grade (C2OG) Sensor
The coal content/ore grade sensor is a machine vision system based on remote sensing technology known as hyperspectral imaging or imaging spectroscopy. The design and manufacture of imaging spectrometers is the central technology of Resonon, Inc., an electro-optic sensor company located in Bozeman. The C2OG project was a joint venture between Resonon, Montana Tech and Stillwater Mining Company. The sensor is designed to address some of the pressing needs of the mining industry with regards to economic competitiveness, energy conservation, environmental sensitivity, and miner safety. Resonon markets an imaging spectrometer system with the initial sale going to the University of Minnesota. Imaging spectrometers have multiple applications in the agricultural, mining, biomedical and environmental monitoring sectors.
Research, Education and Technology Transfer in the Plant Sciences
Dr. Luther Talbert and his research team at Montana State University developed and released a new solid-stemmed wheat named Choteau. The wheat has excellent yield potential and sawfly resistance. Montana farmers are expected to grow at least 500,000 acres of Choteau per year, with an average yield advantage of two bushels per acre over current varieties. This amounts to a minimal value of $3 million per year to Montana farmers.
A Programmable Frequency Chirped External Cavity Diode Laser Based on KTP Waveguides
The successful development of a waveguide based external cavity diode laser by Kevin Repasky and his research team at Montana State University, led to a commercial product for AdvR, a Bozeman based photonic company. Stanford University was the first customer for the laser. The flexibility to provide a source at any wavelength for which a laser diode is commercially available and the ability to offer rapid EO tuning without any moving parts makes targeting a wide range of applications and corresponding wavelengths financially practical.
Discovering Important Genes and Deploying New Feed Barley Varieties
Dr. Thomas Blake, Department of Plant Sciences at Montana State University, and his research team moved genes for dramatically improved feed quality from an obscure group of lines in the world collection to the successful release of two new feed barleys and a hay barley. Haxby, a high test weight, high yielding improved feed barley, was released effective 2002. High-yielding feed barley, MT960228, and Hays, an improved, high grain yield hay barley, was released in 2003. The new varieties with high grain yield are expected to rival the leading feed and hay barleys currently in production in Montana and are expected to account for significant increases in the $115 million barley industry.
Indian Rice Grass: A Value Added Perennial Crop for Montana Growers
Indian Rice Grass is a new perennial grain crop for Montana identified by Dr. David Sands and a team of researchers at Montana State University. The grant facilitated technology transfer for the use of Indian Rice Grass seed as a source of gluten free flour. The flour, trade-named Montina, is used to produce a wide variety of gluten-free breads and products at a dedicated milling, processing and packaging facility in the Mission Mountain Market at Ronan, Montana. In addition, Amazing Grains Cooperative was formed to organize and train growers in establishing production fields and to perform the business functions of milling, packaging, shipping and marketing seed.
CDC Biofilm Reactor
Dr. Martin Hamilton, at the Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, completed research support to manufacture and market a Suspended Coupon Biofilm Reactor. The reactor is a laboratory apparatus which is used by industrial, governmental regulatory and academic instructional labs to conduct tests of antibiofilm agents. BioSurface Technology Corporation (BST), Belgrade, licensed the CDC Biofilm Reactor from the Center for Disease Control and is selling it. Successful completion of this project established BST as the main source for the reactor. BST has a history of success in manufacturing and marketing laboratory and field research instruments under license from the University.
Autonomous Carbon Dioxide Sensor (SAMI)
Dr. Michael DeGrandpre, University of Montana, and David Irwin, Sunburst Sensors, Missoula, used grant funds to make modifications to the SAMI (Submersible Autonomous Moore Instrument for CO2 ). These modifications resulted in a user-friendly instrument for quantifying sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Sunburst Sensors sells the instruments to oceanographic and freshwater researchers in Germany, Spain, Australia, Norway and the United States. Potential commercial applications include global climate change, biomedical and industrial markets.
Value-Added and High-Value Crop Development in Eastern Montana - Production Agricultural Projects Attract Anheuser-Busch Malt Barley Facility
According to Dr. Jerald Bergman, Superintendent at MSU Eastern Agricultural Research Center (EARC), MBRCT grant activity had a very positive influence on Anheuser-Busch officials' decision to locate a $6.8 million malt barley handling and storage facility in Sidney, Montana. Grant projects helped demonstrate the potential for expanded irrigation development and the use of malt barley as a value-added rotational crop with sugar beets, potatoes, and other high-value crops. Bergman states, "These projects are a perfect example of promoting and developing new and expanding agricultural industries and the creation of new wealth through agriculture as part of a regional team effort. Research is definitely an investment in the growth of agriculture and high-value / value-added products and their commercialization. It is very rewarding to have the grant resources to conduct this pertinent research to support irrigation development and the commercialization of high-value and value-added crops including the malt barley industry." The research at EARC is conducted under the leadership of Bergman and Dr. Joyce Eckhoff.