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Chemical Alliance Zone awards three business grants

Article in The Charleston Gazette, Feb. 18, 2014  

Water treatment tech company gets $20,000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Chemical Alliance Zone has awarded three grants totaling more than $53,000, including one for a portable water filtration pilot unit.

The grants were award to Liberty Hydro, Vandalia Research and Keen Process Technologies through the Chemical Alliance Zone’s chemical and materials commercialization fund.

Liberty Hydro received $20,000 for a portable water filtration pilot unit needed for customer-site demonstrations of its clean-water technology. The company specializes in water treatment and technology innovation.

The company is a spinoff of the Mid-Atlantic Technology and Research Innovation Center and is located at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston.

“This is already helping us in a big way. We’ve been able to place the new unit at industrial sites to directly demonstrate the technology. This helps us sell the technology and sell new units,” John Taylor, Liberty Hydro’s chief technology officer, said in a news release.

Vandalia Research, a biotechnology company, was awarded $18,220 for an analytical system. The system is intended to help commercialize the company’s key product. The funds also will help the company achieve important industry certification and compliance.

Vandalia is a spinout from Marshall University and is located in Huntington. The company’s Triathlon DNA production technology allows for the large-scale reproduction of DNA.

According to the company’s website, Triathlon DNA enables the replication of specific portions of a DNA molecule. The method allows for molecules to be selected, amplified and optimized for production in a shorter amount of time than existing replication methods such as plasmid preparation.

“Right now, our procedures for DNA cleanup and quality control are a bit cumbersome and time-consuming,” Vandalia CEO Derek Gregg said in a news release. “This award will help us not only speed that up but make it much more efficient, using the same instrument for several needs.”

Keen Process Technologies, located at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park, was awarded $15,000 for proof-of-concept studies and intellectual property protection for a new, green process to make acrylic acid.

In a news release, Brian Keen, a former Union Carbide and Dow Chemical process chemist, said the grant would allow his company to evaluate the technology very cost effectively. It has a good chance of leading to more development work too. This is a process that could have a big impact if it works.

Acrylic acid is an important raw material used in the production of various plastics, coatings and other materials, including diaper products.

“We are excited about all three companies and technologies, and we’re pleased the commercialization fund is being used to boost commercialization efforts to for some of West Virginia’s startup companies and entrepreneurs,” Kevin DiGregorio, executive director of the Chemical Alliance Zone, said in a news release.