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TechStream looks at new technologies being developed at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. If you’re interested in knowing what tomorrow’s technology will look like, then check back here frequently.

Tech Transfer: Berkeley Lab’s Technology Pantry

In October, some of our Berkeley Lab researchers told us about a new biofuel they had created…something that may one day be an inexpensive alternative to today’s diesel fuel. It’s called bisabolane.

Taek Soon Lee, who directs the Berkeley Lab-led Joint BioEnergy Institute’s metabolic engineering program, said, “This work is also a proof-of-principle for advanced biofuels research in that we’ve shown that we can design a biofuel target, evaluate this fuel target, and produce the fuel with microbes that we’ve engineered.”

Sitting around a conference table with my colleagues afterwards we started talking about all the other technologies coming out of Berkeley Lab and wondered if enough people knew about all the opportunities to license technology. And thus, you have this new blog.Joint BioEnergy Insitute

It’s not going to just be about biofuels, or cool new batteries, or gadgets you might see in a future Star Trek movie. But it will be about the technology at the Lab that may lead to a new start-up or the next new product.

We’ll highlight some of the latest efforts here and I’m going to see what kinds of themes we might have…biofuels is an obvious one; but there’s energy efficiency, nanotechnology, computing sciences­—and so much more…technology that can drive our nation’s economic engine just a little bit faster. If only enough people knew about it.

Like most of the national labs, Berkeley Lab is funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy but operated by another institution, in our case, the University of California. We’re great at creating research, products or related technology, but our mandate pretty much stops there. We rely on industry and our academic partners to help take the technology to market and the next logical steps. So, what exactly do we have available?

I started digging around our TechTransfer website and there’s so much, I can’t get to it all in this single entry blog (which basically means you’ll have to check it out for yourself or keep coming back to this blog).

Berkeley Lab’s tech transfer office, by the way, is the conduit that helps move research out of the lab and to market.

Since we’re talking about bisabolane, let’s take a quick look at the biofuels section on their website. Divided into product areas such as Feedstocks, Fuel Synthesis, and Technologies and Software, there are currently 34 technologies available for licensing (there were 32 just a couple of weeks ago). Since bisabolane is a recent discovery it’s marked as a “new” entry.

There’s great promise for bisabolane. And there have been a number of success stories already from our TechTransfer program, including Aeroseal, which was recently named a Best New Home Product by This Old House magazine, and the Darfur Stove project, which is helping to save lives in Africa. That project has recently branched out to one looking at efficient cook stoves for survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

A lot going on here at Berkeley Lab…and it’s waiting for the next entrepreneur, business, or investor.  Who’s interested?!?

More info on how to license technology is here: http://www.lbl.gov/Tech-Transfer/index.html

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