NRL’s Mixed Odor Delivery Device Awarded 2018 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award

The world of science is a lesson in progress, following an invention from a simple idea to an applied device that can be used to solve every day problems. While the process to create a technology is long and arduous, once a product is made there must be someone there to make sure the technology is transferred to the field.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Technology Transfer Office was recognized for its outstanding ability to make that happen this year as the Federal Laboratory Consortium’s (FLC) 2018 Excellence in Technology Transfer Award recipient during the FLC’s annual ceremony today in Philadelphia.

The award is presented annually to federal employees who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring federally developed technology. This year’s award identifies 30 recipients from 24 different laboratories, one of which being NRL’s licensing of the Mixed Odor Delivery Device, or MODD, developed by NRL chemist Dr. Lauryn DeGreeff

The MODD is a safe, low cost, and time effective way to train dogs on the odor of homemade explosives. This new training tool enhances the dog’s ability to locate the odors of ingredients that make up homemade explosives without having a volatile explosive in the training center.

The Mixed Odor Delivery Device contains four compartments in the base (right), each with an odor regulating lid, that releases odors to mix into the top (left) to be expelled and tested with canine units. Photo Credit: NRL Tech Transfer Office

"Homemade explosives are often made up of simple, binary mixtures of commercially available materials,” says DeGreeff. “While the individual components are safe to handle, the mixtures are explosive and come with a number of safety restriction for their use, storage, and handling. These safety hazards seriously limit the frequency of which canines can train on the mixed explosives.”

The MODD eliminates the safety hazards by integrating multiple compartments within the device, each able to hold a different ingredient of the explosive without the danger of mixing. The dog is then able to be efficiently trained on a mixed odor without having to create a volatile compound.

Since being licensed in 2017, the MODD is being used to train dogs on odor detection throughout the nation. DeGreeff even trained dog units at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during this year’s Super Bowl LII.

Integral in bringing this technology to fruition was NRL’s Technology Transfer Office, with valuable input from the Head of Technology Transfer, Amanda Horansky McKinney. McKinney said she is proud of this particular venture, giving kudos to all involved in the transfer process.

“Between Lauryn’s amazing work with canines that led her to develop MODD, her unending enthusiasm and drive to get her research into the hands of those who can bring it to the marketplace to benefit the warfighter and first responders, and our colleague at TechLink Austin Leach’s keen eye in helping us find the right partner in Per Vivo Labs and navigate that relationship, it’s been an honor to be the NRL Technology Transfer Office member who got to negotiate the license that brought this transfer to fruition,” said McKinney.