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Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org, (612) 626-7959
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/21/2012 )—A new University of Minnesota startup company, Argilex Technologies, will develop and manufacture zeolite nanosheets that could cut the price of gasoline and plastics production, and make the overall process more energy efficient.
The technology is based on research developed by a team led by Michael Tsapatsis, a chemical engineering and materials science professor in the University’s College of Science and Engineering. The research team invented a process for making the ultra-thin films, which can separate molecules with minute size and shape differences. This unique material could eliminate the distillation process in the production of fuel and plastics—an added expense due to rising energy costs.
“Separating mixed substances can demand considerable amounts of energy, part of which is wasted due to process inefficiencies,” explains Cesar Gonzalez, CEO of Argilex Technologies. “In days of abundant and inexpensive fuel, this was not a major consideration. But as energy prices rise and policies promote efficiency, the need for more energy-efficient alternatives has grown.”
Co-founded by Gonzalez and Tsapatsis, Argilex launched in early March 2012. Proof of concept in the laboratory scale has been achieved, and Tsapatsis hopes to create larger-scale prototypes soon.