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it's all about the e's - published with permission from Lexington United JOHN STENCEL AND HIS Lexington company have the technology to make hip replacements stronger, cutting blades sharper and aircraft engines safer.

And they do it by removing impurities as small as a speck of talcum powder.

With patented technology that can sift tiny impurities from powdered materials, Stencel's start-up firm, Tribo Flow Separations, can reach purity levels previously unachievable among metal powders. These purer raw materials can be made into stronger, smoother and more reliable specialty products. This translates into artificial joints that are less likely to crack or cause infection, high-speed cutting tools that stay sharp longer, and aircraft engine parts that are less prone to break unexpectedly.

"With the use of our technology, we expect that the uniform manufac- turing efficiencies within the U.S. metal powder industry can increase at a minimum of 30 percent from start to end product," said Stencel, Tribo Flow's president and founder.

Research on the technology started eight years ago with a federal grant proposal to study the principles of charge and flow toward fine particle purification at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, where Stencel served as Associate Director. Stencel launched
Tribo Flow last year after licensing the technology that he invented while at the university.

With little competition in the arena of ultra-purification in the metal powder industry, Stencel and his
associates are researching possible applications in fields as diverse as mining, energy, medical and electronic devices, food products, consumer products and surface structural cleaning agents. Tribo Flow has also sublicensed its technology to Stock Equipment Company in Ohio for use in the purification of combustion ash, which can be used in purified form to manufacture cement materials with more resistance to salt and other corrosive chemical agents. The first two ash purification units
are expected to be installed in the next six months.

With its roster of eight employees, Tribo Flow opened its new 2500- square-foot office in Coldstream Research Park in December of 2001. In conjunction with metal powder manufacturer Carpenter Powder Products in Pennsylvania, Tribo Flow will concentrate for the next twelve months on pre-commercialization research and development before al launching into market testing.

The strong potential for Tribo Flow's technology has been recognized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In 2001, Tribo Flow Separations was awarded a two-year $1.8 million grant from the NIST's Advanced Technology Program Program (ATP), making Tribo Flow the first Kentucky company to receive a grant from the program since ATP's inception in 1990.

Tribo Flow hopes to open doors that for other budding Kentucky room entrepreneurs by serving as an example of success in attracting start-up funding from state and federal agencies. In January of 2001, Tribo Flow benefited from seed grant funds of $4,000 from the Kentucky Experimental to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). It used this money fund the development of its successful ATP proposal. Stencel and Tribo Flow Operations Manager Melissa Ochsenbein continue to be active in promoting Kentucky's EPSCoR initiatives.

"Since the Advanced Technology Program started, roughly $1.2 billion in research and development money has been distributed," Stencel said. "Tribo Flow's award was the first in Kentucky and represents less than one-tenth of one percent of that money. We see a great deal of room for improvement for Kentucky entrepreneurs to get involved in ATP awards.”

Terry Burkhart, president of Lexington United, noted: "In their leadership roles with Tribo Flow and EPSCoR, John Stencel and Melissa Ochsenbein are both pioneers and advocates of competitive research and development efforts in the state of Kentucky. We're fortunate to have a research university of UK's caliber to nurture great entrepreneurial talent and ideas, which in turn have a direct positive economic impact on our community."

 

 
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