The Patent Program helps convert Forest Service research into usable information and technologies that benefit both the American public and industry. Patents are an effective mode of technology transfer, as they make technologies more appealing to the marketplace due to the exclusivity they offer. Technology transfer leads to increased productivity, increased industrial innovation, enhanced U.S. industrial competitiveness, job creation, and improved and lower cost public services.
USDA Forest Service and UW-Madison researchers have created a super absorbent aerogel made from cellulose nanofibrils (CNF), which are particles found in woody biomass. This super absorbent material is highly porous and extremely lightweight. Its water repelling and oil absorbing properties provide a sustainable and novel method to oil-spill cleanup. This aerogel would be deployed as a sheet at an oil spill, absorbing the oil quickly and efficiently. The sheet is also reusable and absorbed oil can be removed from the aerogel for recycling.
Industrial cooperators and/or licensees are being sought to further develop USDA Forest Service invention that protects wood from mold using an essential oil. Traditional methods of treating mold have utilized chemical fungicides. Due to the toxicity of the chemicals, these treatments are poorly suited for indoor use. Natural, low toxicity means of inhibiting mold growth therefore have strong commercial appeal. This invention describes a method of protecting wood from mold with an essential oil, in this case thyme, which can be applied through a variety of surface treatments. The essential oil may be applied in an undiluted or diluted form, with the dilutant composed of an oil, alcohol, ketone, or mixture thereof.