Three ChBE Professors Honored for Securing Patents

September 13, 2019

Chemical and Biomolecular Department researchers Drs. David Bruce, Christopher Kitchens, and Mark Thies were among those honored this year for securing patents in 2018.   Other departments represented included automotive engineering, bioengineering, and environmental engineering.   Among the 16 patents issued to Clemson University researchers in 2018 were technologies for improving on-site building construction with a sustainable building system, purifying lignins, and self-healing polymer coatings that inhibit corrosion of metal substrates.

Drs. Thies and Bruce received a patent on “Solvent and Recovery Process for Lignin.”  The technology developed by Profs. Thies and Bruce in conjunction with Dr. Adam Klett, a doctoral graduate of the ChBE department, enables renewable lignin, the most abundant aromatic polymer produced in nature, to be recovered at high purities and with low metals content from process fluids that are routinely generated during the conversion of trees into pulp and paper products.  These purified lignin products are finding uses as polyurethane foams, building materials, and carbon fiber precursors, to name just a few.

Dr. Kitchens was recently awarded a patent on technology to build Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) devices from nanocrystals derived from renewable cellulose biomass, including cotton or trees.  This technology was developed in collaboration with Profs. Virginia Davis and Robert Ashurst at Auburn University and funded by the National Science Foundation.  The MEMS industry is a $20 Billion industry that has enabled the miniaturization of technology that we have become reliant upon. MEMS devices are currently fabricated from silicon by an energy intensive process that uses large quantities of hazardous chemicals.  This technology provides an entirely new material with similar performance characteristics but is renewable, more sustainable, non-toxic, and biocompatible.  These attributes have the potential to revolutionize the MEMS industry and open the doors to new applications, especially in the biomedical field.    The title of this patent is “Microdevices and Methods of Manufacture.”

The patent recipients were honored at the annual Patent Award Ceremony hosted by the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), which facilitates technology transfer at Clemson University.

In addition to the Patent Awards, Inventor’s Club Awards were presented to inventors who had licensed or otherwise commercialized their technologies in 2018.

The Patent Awards honor and celebrate the drive for research and innovation at Clemson University by showcasing the 16 patents issued for the calendar year 2018. This year’s 16 patents add to CURF’s portfolio of 166 issued patents inventions available for licensing. The awards program honored innovators in areas such as agriculture, bioengineering and materials sciences.

CURF also recognized KIYATEC Inc. for being one of 20 startups from across the country selected to participate in The University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase that took place on Capitol Hill on April 10.

Chris Gesswein, executive director of CURF, congratulates award recipients on their hard work and significant contributions to the Clemson University research enterprise.

“At CURF, we have the unique opportunity to work with Clemson’s most innovative minds. This networking event is our way of recognizing the accomplishments and hard work of Clemson inventors,” said Chris Gesswein, executive director of CURF. “It’s an honor to celebrate these researchers and the contributions they have made to innovation. Congratulations to all of the inventors for their drive and commitment to academic research.”

Guest speaker Doug Kim, member of Kim and Lahey Law Firm, presented on the topic of “Making your research relevant and interesting to industry partners.”

CURF and the Division of Research work together to support Clemson-affiliated inventors and entrepreneurs through patent protection, marketing, education, material transfer, and license negotiation services.

For a complete list of patents received in 2018, click here.

For a list of Inventor’s Club Award recipients, click here.