NETL Licensing Agreement Creates New Clean Energy Start-Up

An exclusive licensing agreement has been executed between the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and a start-up company, Pyrochem Catalyst Corporation. The agreement is for two NETL-developed technologies related to a proprietary fuel-reforming catalyst. This agreement is groundbreaking because it is the first instance in which a NETL-licensed technology has been used for the creation of a start-up.

Pyrochem Catalyst was established with financial support from a Pittsburgh-based funding group, Innovation Works, and will conduct its research and development activities in south-western Pennsylvania. The successful commercialization of the new technology should lead to the creation of high tech jobs in the area.

Innovation Works, a five year, $10 million state-funded initiative, helped in the effort by providing funding for the start-up. The goal of the program is to encourage the development of companies in the energy sector based on university level research. The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Virginia Tech, West Virginia University and Pennsylvania State University are part of a consortium of universities in the state that are partnering on research with NETL.

NETL research has concentrated on transforming heavy hydrocarbons like diesel and coal-based fuels into hydrogen-rich synthesis gas. This process is an important step for producing fuel cells and other clean energy applications. The initial work at Pyrochem Catalyst is expected to focus on further developing NETL’s pyrochlore catalyst for use in fuel cell auxiliary power systems to power vehicles.

Under federal regulations, NETL is authorized to obtain, maintain and own patent protection for its inventions, including those funded through collaborative agreements. By entering into a commercial licensing agreement with Pyrochem Catalyst for its technologies, NETL can now convey and control the right to make, use and sell the products and services that are claimed in the patent and thereby assure strategic commercialization throughout an industry.