UNM Rainforest Innovations

On August 17, UNM Rainforest Innovations (UNMRI) hosted a Technology Showcase featuring key technology trends in life-science and physical-science technologies developed at the University of New Mexico. Six innovators presented their inventions to invited entrepreneurs, investors, and companies.

Opening remarks were given by Lisa Kuutila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer at UNM Rainforest Innovations. The life-science technology presentations were moderated by Gregg Banninger, Ph.D., Innovation Manager of Life Sciences at UNMRI, and physical-science technology presentations were moderated by Alex Roerick, Sr. Innovation Associate of Engineering & Physical Sciences at UNM Rainforest Innovations.

Below are summaries of the technologies featured in the event:

Mineral Recovery for Enhanced Desalination (MRED) Process for Improved Brackish Water Desalination and Recovery of Commodity Minerals
Bruce Thomson, Ph.D., Director, Water Resource Program and Professor, Civil Engineering

This innovative process permits selective removal of scale forming constituents from brackish water prior to the desalination process. This sequential removal of calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate/carbonate, and sulfate produces feed water that has very low potential to form mineral scales during the desalination process. Decreased scale formation results in the ability to recover a higher fraction of feed water, as compared to conventional desalination methods. Concurrently, highly pure mineral commodities are recovered, reducing the amount and cost of waste disposal, while the sale of these products offsets part of the cost of desalination. The method described can be utilized to desalinate water for industrial, agricultural, and public water supplies. Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/fa0fad14-1938-4004-b913-e321be0c2e10

The Use of Iron-Containing Nanomaterials as Antimicrobial Agents
Marek Osinski, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Researchers from the University of New Mexico and the University of Texas at Austin have developed a novel method for antimicrobial treatment. This antimicrobial treatment process results in significant destruction and killing of biofilms. This technology can have an immediate impact in applications such as surgical sutures, catheters, respirator parts, as well as treatment for bacterial infections. Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/72c8fd1a-e41d-41cd-9f44-82a0567ab8b1

Oral Gelling Liquid Formulations
Jason McConville, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed an innovative technique that allows for the lowering of the HPMC sol-gel transition temperature to form an oral gel. The technique incorporates the use of specific gelling aids to reduce the sol-gel transition temperature. Since the gelation temperature is lowered to below that of the human body temperature, the release of fluoride can be prolonged. By lowering the sol-gel transition temperature, the tooth is initially exposed in the solution phase, before an extended release of the active agent in the gel phase. This exposure allows both dental crevices and exposed surfaces to be treated. Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/353aeb5a-5dbb-4070-ac22-1dc70e64c962

Cloudshine©: Solar Insolation Micro-Forecasts to Integrate PV Power Plants with Today’s Electric Grid
Anthony Menicucci, Ph.D. Research Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a method of forecasting solar energy irradiance potential and subsequent photovoltaic output in a region. By offering a cost-effective distributed photovoltaic field energy smoothing solution, this technology can utilize rapid microforecasting to reduce installation and operational costs, due to decreased discharge rates, extending the system’s overall lifetime. Responding to complex reaction times associated with random cloud cover, propels this technology over traditional forecasting methods. The proposed solution can be easily integrated with existing natural gas systems. Both flywheel and battery storage facilities in search of a beneficial alternative have been identified as primary commercialization partners. In addition, this invention includes adaptive resonance theory (ART) which is a type of neural network system that assesses cloud patterns to determine future solar irradiance. ART can be used to analyze whole-house records to produce information for a solar hot water system. Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/ff31a548-3f1b-4d53-84cc-be7ca0282c70

Very-small Scalable LIquid Metal cooled Modular Reactor (VSLIMM) for Portable and Stationary Power
Mohamed El-Genk, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Space & Nuclear Power, Regents Professor of Chemical & Nuclear Engineering, and Distinguished Professor of Chemical & Nuclear Engineering

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a very-small, long-life, modular (VSLLIM) reactor for portable and stationary electrical power generation of 1-10 MW of thermal power and also the production of process heat for industrial uses and district heating. VSLLIM would be factory fabricated, assembled, and sealed, and offer redundant passive operation and safety features. It eliminates on-site refueling and storage of either fresh or used nuclear fuel, and after a short storage period, used units would be returned to the factory and replaced with fresh ones. The VSLLIM integrated with the rest of the power plants components could deployed on a portable or floating platform, or installed below ground at a permanent site designed to resist missile attack and earthquakes. The VSLLIM plant offers an additional auxiliary electrical power option during nominal operation and after shutdown, independent of on-site and off-site power sources. The potable VSLLIM plant use open air-turbo-Brayton energy conversion, which eliminates the need for active cooling, thus uniquely suitable for operation in arid regions. Therefore, the VSLLIM power system is suitable for remote and arid communities, as well as providing a potable and safe mean for providing both electricity and heat to assist in emergency evacuation and disaster relief efforts. This power system could operate continuously, 24/7 for 6 – 92 full-power years, depending of the reactor operating thermal power. Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/6a29940d-658e-4249-8a21-a26505e9443e

Reversible Electrochemical Mirror using Cation Conducting Membrane
Fernando Garzon, Ph.D., Director, Center for Micro Engineering Materials and Distinguished Professor, Chemical & Biological Engineering

Researchers at the University of New Mexico and the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate have developed a new Reversible Electrochemical Mirror (REM) device that incorporates a metal cation infused polymer based electrolyte. This novel electrolyte dramatically improves REM performance by eliminating the need for liquid seals required when a solution based electrolyte is used, imparts good atmospheric tolerance to chemicals integrated into the polymer to infuse cations, provides good ion mobility to support rapid reversible electroplating when directional voltages are applied, allows metals thin films to be reversibly electrodeposited or etched, and suppresses dendrite formation which can ruin REM devices. Moreover, the transparency of this novel polymer electrolyte expands what optical applications REMs created with this polymer can be used for while the flexibility of this polymer enables the deployment of conformal and bendable REM devices. Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/f0906e08-7c4d-4558-b9e8-ab34863835fb

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