National Lab Commercializes New Tech, Including Ant Behavior-Based Cybersecurity Software

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been busy finding ways to get its technology into the public marketplace.

by Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald / February 7, 2018

(TNS) — More products developed from research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are making their way into the marketplace.

New ways of preventing cyberattacks, better blood testing and a versatile way to use solar energy developed at the Department of Energy laboratory at Richland have been licensed to companies.

PNNL’s efforts to find commercial partners interested in bringing the technology to market have been recognized by the Federal Laboratory Consortium.

The consortium recently gave PNNL three awards for excellence in technology transfer, bringing its total to 88 since the awards program was launched in 1984. It is more than any other national lab.

“Since the laboratory was created in 1965, our scientists and engineers have prided themselves on working with private industry to find additional uses for government-developed technologies that directly affect people’s lives,” said Lee Cheatham, PNNL director of technology deployment and outreach.

Technologies receiving awards include:

  • A record-setting 70 percent of solar energy can be converted into chemical energy with STARS, or Solar Thermochemical Advanced Reactor System, according to PNNL.
  • The chemical energy can be used either for transportation or to produce electricity.
  • Concentrated sunlight is used to convert natural gas or other chemicals into a more energy-rich fuel.
  • A Richland-based spinoff company, STARS Technology, made up of three former PNNL employees and an industry mentor, has a license to commercialize the technology.
  • Technology that can look for biomarkers in blood samples, such as lipids and metabolites, has promise for allowing doctors to personalize medicine based on a patient’s blood test results.

The biomarkers found can indicate disease before symptoms may be evident.

The technology is 1,000 times faster than other typical analysis methods of complex biological samples and has unprecedented sensitivity to identify trace amounts of molecules, according to PNNL.

A startup company, MOBILion System Inc., has held a license for the technology since January 2017. It is called SLIM, for Structures for Lossless Ion Manipulation.

Three new cybersecurity technologies that can be used together are being commercialized by startup Cynash Inc., which is producing software that should be ready to market mid-year.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Transition to Practice Program stepped in to help find entrepreneurs and potential investors.

PNNL initially provided an exploratory license to allow Cynash to “test drive” the technology before it acquired an exclusive commercial license.

One technology, Ant-Based Cyber Defense, is modeled after the behavior of ants.

Ant-like software agents wander across networks from device to device to detect suspicious behavior. When they find something of concern, they lay down markers, much like ants lay down pheromones, to attract other agents to the area.

The other two technologies are for older devices used in industrial control systems and for finding new malware, based on systems used to analyze vast amounts of biological data.

©2018 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.