Honors Gallery

Licensing ORNL’s High-Performance, Low-Cost Alloys to Eck Industries

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2018

Award Type: National

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Aluminum cerium (ACE) alloys exhibit superior high-temperature performance and castability while reducing manufacturing steps. These exceptional characteristics shrink costs and the energy requirements of manufacturing in the automotive, aerospace, and energy industries.

ACE alloys open the door to using aluminum in a wide variety of applications that typically require more expensive materials, such as steel or titanium. They also address energy reduction goals and provide a new use for cerium, an abundant and often wasted byproduct of rare-earth mining. This technology exemplifies how low-value materials can be repurposed to develop high-performance products with exceptional value.

This technology was produced via a joint effort between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Ames Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Eck Industries, Inc. These four organizations are members of the Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a group that aims to accelerate discovery and applied research focused on critical energy issues.

ORNL worked with Ames Laboratory and LLNL to obtain their intellectual property rights to the ACE alloys technology in order to sign an exclusive licensing agreement with Eck Industries, a privately owned company based in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

The licensee has committed to an aggressive development plan of the ACE alloys, with the goal of achieving commercial development milestones and bringing the technology to the marketplace. This technology transfer effort was a success due to market-relevant technology, market-savvy innovators, Eck Industries being the agile-yet-powerful licensee, and an overall foundation of trust among the innovators.

The technology transfer effort will result in Eck Industries benefiting from both the current market and potential new commercial applications that arise thanks to this innovative and transformative technology.

This technology transfer is furthering CMI’s goal to advance basic and applied research with engineering to accelerate scientific discoveries that address critical energy issues. This partnership illustrates how this goal can be met by developing an innovative material that can address the needs of the U.S. manufacturing industry while assuring market demand for the supply chains of critical materials, such as rare-earth elements, which are important to U.S. security.

Contact: Dr. Orlando Rios, (865) 574-3747, [email protected]