April 29, 1999
DOE NEWS MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Sherwood, 202/586-5806
An asbestos digesting foam, the world's smallest lock and an "on-board" oil refinery that reduces a car's smog-producing pollutants are among the Department of Energy-funded research announced today by Discover magazine as finalists for its 1999 Awards for Technological Innovation. The magazine will announce the winners on Saturday, June 5, in a ceremony at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.
"It is gratifying to have independent recognition of the value of Department of Energy-funded research to the nation," Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson said. "These four finalists bring to 27 the number of DOE-funded finalists over the years. Whether done at one of the department's national laboratories or at a university, this research is already making and will continue to make real contributions to our country's environment, health and economic competitiveness."
Discover's special July awards issue will feature finalists and winning technologies in nine categories. The magazine's editorial panel chose this year's 27 finalists from among more than 4,000 nominees. A panel of judges will choose the winning technologies.
Information on the finalists follows:
This new product is capable of destroying asbestos in installed fireproofing without diminishing its fire-resistive performance. The new technique uses a foamy solution that chemically digests asbestos fibers, dissolving them into harmless minerals. When the treatment is done, so few fibers remain that the product no longer falls under regulations for asbestos-containing material.
For more information, see http://www.gcp-grace.com/products/fireprotect/dma_info.html
Personal information and business transactions on the Internet
are not as secure as they should be. Even the best software protection
can fall prey to an enterprising hacker. Unfortunately, you can't
put a lock on cyberspace, so Sandia's researchers did the next
best thing: they found a way to put a lock inside the computer.
Their microscopic combination lock creates a physical, and almost
uncrackable, barrier to electronic snoopers. It could provide
the ultimate in computer privacy. For more information, see http://www.sandia.gov/media/hacker.htm
Engineers have known for years that adding hydrogen to the fuel mix can make an automobile engine run much cleaner. The problem has been figuring out a way to create the hydrogen onboard as it is needed. The Microplasmatron does the trick using blasts of electricity that convert ordinary gasoline and air into a hydrogen-rich gas. The prototype version is just the size of a soup can but it produces enough hydrogen to cut emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides by 90 percent. For more information, see http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/nr/1997/plasmatron.html