ORNL's Superhydrophobic Diatomaceous Earth Licensed to Velox Flow Corporation
Velox Flow, a startup company in the Charlotte, North Carolina area has licensed several patents related to superhydrophobic diatomaceous earth developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The principals at Velox Flow have extensive contacts and experience in the field of protective coatings and in the municipal pipe industry, so this partnership is a natural fit.
The new material, developed at ORNL by John Simpson, Jim Kiggans, Craig Blue, and Brian D’Urso, is unique in that it demonstrates an extremely high water contact angle while being much less expensive than traditional superhydrophobic materials. As a result they have excellent water-repellant and anti-biofouling properties. In addition, the manufacture of the material is fairly straightforward and the cost of the raw materials is much lower than that of previous types of coatings with similar properties.
Any application in which water permeation, penetration, or fouling is an issue could be a potential use of this technology. Some examples include building materials such as vinyl siding or OSB, boat hulls, and infrastructure applications. The agreement with Velox Flow allows for the use of the material in a variety of types of pipes and conduits to flow water to and from homes and businesses.