By Alexandra Foran, NSRDEC Public AffairsApril 1, 2013
NATICK, Mass. (April 1, 2013) -- The U.S. Army and Navy were named among Thomson Reuters' Top 100 Global Innovators for 2012. This is the first time any government agency has ever made this list.
Leaders are chosen using a propriety program based on metrics regarding each company's multiple innovative patents.
The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, patented 20 different technological advancements for the Army in fiscal year 2012 alone.
NSRDEC's patent contributions in 2012 included ideas such as portable chemical sterilization and the polymerization of natural compounds, among others. Quality of life has already improved for deployed Soldiers through the portable chemical sterilization patents, while the polymerization of natural compounds may make food last longer, create better flame-retardant material, and possibly develop a cancer-fighting drug.
Christopher Doona, a civilian senior research chemist, researches novel technologies in order to create more hygienic and safer working environments for Soldiers in places such as medical facilities, kitchens and showers.
"(For us) it's kind of fascinating to see our research being more applied, patented and licensed to industry," Doona said. "Actually, industry is already marketing a commercial product based on our inventions."
Doona's patents transitioned into products such as the Portable Chemical Sterilizer and Disinfectant sprayer for Foods and Environmentally friendly Sanitation, both of which are lightweight, portable, and generate gaseous chlorine dioxide safely in minutes to sterilize certain specific surfaces at their point-of-use.
Doona and his team have been recognized with Department of the Army Research and Development Achievement Awards and Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards for Excellence in Technology Transfer for this research with practical benefit to military and civilian consumers.
Nicole Favreau Farhadi and Ferdinando Bruno, both civilian research chemists, looked at a naturally occurring compound known as hydroxytyrosol, one of the most potent antioxidants found in olive oil, and enzymatically polymerized it; this chemical process basically means the compound is reacted to form a long chain of repeating units.
"As you make this polymer chain longer, it becomes a more potent antioxidant than what you actually find in nature," said Favreau.
When this process is used for food applications, limiting or eliminating oxygen in this manner will make food last longer. Polymerization in this way is incredibly important because it is relatively simple, now that the process has been formulated, which means polymerizing on a mass scale is feasible.
Their team reported two patents: "the homo- and co-polymerization of hydroxytyrosol for possible application as an antioxidant for food, maybe even cancer drugs," said Bruno.
Both chemists noted that they often find industry and academic partners who are willing to collaborate with them to advance their research and development.
"We have seen a lot of outside interest for many other potential applications," Bruno said.
A 2012 U.S. Department of Commerce report stated: "Innovation is the key driver of competitiveness, wage and job growth, and long-term economic growth."
NSRDEC is doing as much as it can to innovate and continue to create quality technology for Soldiers.