Department of Energy

Iowa Start-up Taps Ames Laboratory Technology in Challenge

August 10, 2011

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Using gas atomization technology developed at the Ames Lab (click through the photo to see a video), IPAT will be able to make titanium powder 10 times more efficiently than traditional powder-making methods. Above right, 1.8 grams of gas atomized titanium powder makes a finished 1.8 gram titanium bolt. | Image Courtesy of IPAT

Using gas atomization technology developed at the Ames Lab (click through the photo to see a video), IPAT will be able to make titanium powder 10 times more efficiently than traditional powder-making methods. Above right, 1.8 grams of gas atomized titanium powder makes a finished 1.8 gram titanium bolt. | Image Courtesy of IPAT

Who will be America’s Next Top Energy Innovator? The challenge is heating up and Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies (IPAT), an  Iowa-based start-up company, isn’t going to be left in the dust.

The challenge, part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America Initiative to encourage high-growth entrepreneurship,  gives start-up companies streamlined access to technologies developed at the Energy Department’s 17 national laboratories for a reduced upfront fee of just $1,000.
 
IPAT has signed a technology license agreement to use technologies developed by Ames Laboratory.  Using gas atomization technology developed at the Ames Lab, IPAT will be able to make titanium powder 10 times more efficiently than traditional powder-making methods -- significantly lowering the cost of the powder to manufacturers. The powder form of titanium is easier to work with than having to cast the metal — where manufacturers melt and pour liquid metal into molds — particularly given titanium’s tendency to react with the materials used to form molds.

IPAT aims to develop the first-of-its-kind commercial scale gas atomizer specifically to produce fine titanium powder. (You can watch a video of the gas atomization process in slow motion here.)

Manufacturers then use high-temperature treatment to inject the spherical powder and convert molded shapes to final parts, a much more efficient part-making technique. Titanium’s strength, light weight, biocompatibility and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for use in a variety of parts -- from components for artificial limbs -- like those used by wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan -- to military vehicle components, biomedical implants, aerospace fasteners and chemical plant valves.

Through America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge, the Energy Department is making it easier for start-up companies to succeed and create new jobs in America.  Entrepreneurs who complete the process and demonstrate progress toward executing their business plans and commercializing technologies will have the opportunity to be showcased at the 3rd Annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in 2012.

For more information about IPAT and its partnership with Ames Laboratory visit here.