NRL Signs Licensing Agreement with SoilWorks for Dust Abatement Technology

11/1/2004 - 54-04r
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The Naval Research Laboratory has signed a licensing agreement with SoilWorks, LLC, of Gilbert, Arizona, for a dust abatement technology that will make it safer for helicopters operating in dusty environments. This license is noted for the speed with which it was moved from concept to completed technology to licensing. Ms. Jane Kuhl, NRL Technology Transfer Officer, said, "This is an excellent example of the speed by which NRL can respond with a solution to a critical problem. The formulation was developed, tested, transitioned to the war fighter, and made available to the public through a licensed commercial supplier in under 18 months." Licensing agreements have been enabled by the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 which established tech transfer offices in federal laboratories, the Bayh-Dole Act of 1982 which allowed the granting of exclusive and non-exclusive licenses and the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986.

Military helicopters operating in dusty environments can experience hazardous landing conditions resulting from loss of visibility, called brown outs. It is estimated that one half of the helicopter mishaps in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted from brown outs. Scientists in NRL's Chemistry Division examined the brown out problem and developed an aqueous formulation that is environmentally friendly, inexpensive, and can be easily applied in a single step to create a safe landing zone.

The solution is comprised of a polysaccharide blend, surfactants, mordants and water, explains Dr. Barry Spargo, head of NRL's Chemical Dynamics and Diagnostics Branch and principal investigator for this research. When applied to sand or dust particles, the solution binds them to form a hardened crust. SoilWorks is marketing the NRL-developed solution under the name SurtacTM .

In addition to its use for creating safe landing pads, the product may be used to abate dust around facilities, such as field hospitals, and around high value, critical equipment. It has many commercial applications, as well, such as prevention of soil erosion, dust abatement at construction sites and dirt road maintenance.

Helicopters operating in dusty environments experience hazardous landing conditions resulting from loss of visibility (brown outs).   NRL Chemistry Division has developed a dust abatement technology that is environmentally friendly and can be easily applied to make it safer for helicopters operating in dusty environments.

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