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WATCH: Award-winning technologies aim to protect the world

From detecting nerve agents to protecting Earth’s orbital zones
October 30, 2020
Los Alamos scientist Ramesh Jha with the Smart Microbial Cell Technology project, an ultra-high-throughput screening platform to engineer custom biocatalysts.

Los Alamos scientist Ramesh Jha with the Smart Microbial Cell Technology project, an ultra-high-throughput screening platform to engineer custom biocatalysts.

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Los Alamos National Laboratory technologies recently brought in eight coveted R&D 100 Awards plus an additional four special-recognition awards, presented by R&D World magazine. The prestigious “Oscars of Invention” honor the latest and best innovations and identify the top technology products of the past year. The R&D 100 Awards span industry, academia and government-sponsored research organizations.

There’s no time like now to appreciate innovations that can help protect the world (and even low Earth orbit). Here are four practical solutions that do just that — in very different ways. Watch these videos and meet the innovators.

Spectroscopic Detection of Nerve Agents (SEDONA) This is the only portable screener to accurately detect the chemical nerve agents in unopened bottles, providing results in seconds. SEDONA dramatically reduces the likelihood of a successful nerve agent attack at airports, government buildings, embassies, sporting events, concerts and political rallies.

Smart Microbial Cell Technology Biocatalysts are essential for food production, pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, renewable energy and environmental cleanup. Current methods to find biocatalysts are slow. Smart Microbial Cell Technology scans genetic variations to optimize a single enzyme or microbial cell to generate a product efficiently. When coupled to flow cytometry, a million biocatalyst variants can be screened in hours. This entry also received a Silver Special Recognition Award for Market Disruptor-Services.

Multi-Burn Solid Rocket The Earth’s orbital zones are an important natural resource. The Multi-burn Solid Rocket could help protect this resource by enabling satellites to avoid orbital debris and to de-orbit at the end of life.

QUIC-Fire This software is the first fast-running, laptop-capable, 3D fire-atmosphere feedback model for complex wildfire and prescribed fire scenarios. It transforms fire and fuel manager’s ability to assess risk, optimize fuel treatments, and plan prescribed burns to prevent catastrophic wildfires.

Since 1978 Los Alamos has won more than 170 R&D 100 Awards. The Laboratory’s discoveries, developments, advancements and inventions make the world a better and safer place, bolster national security and enhance national competitiveness. Learn more: Eight Los Alamos projects win R&D 100 Awards news release.