The patents provide a unique method of delivering chemicals called biocides that are used to kill microorganisms that form into clumps called biofilms. Biofilms occur in nearly all watery environments, including industrial settings, and are notoriously resistant to treatments.
The donation was announced today (Feb. 5) during the MSU Center for Biofilm Engineering's winter meeting with Kodak and other industrial partners.
"The Center for Biofilm Engineering is a leading biofilm research institution, and this technology is a valuable contribution to their efforts in understanding and addressing biofilm-related problems," said Nick Zelver of the Technology Management Office at MSU. "Our research scientists are excited about the new opportunities that the research into the Kodak technology will offer."
"Kodak has worked with MSU's Center for Biofilm Engineering for years," said James C. Stoffel, chief technology officer, director of research and development, and senior vice president of Eastman Kodak Company. "We know that the CBE team has the skill, commitment and enthusiasm to take this technology forward and apply it to biofilm control in markets outside of the commercial, consumer and health imaging markets where Kodak focuses."
The Kodak inventions involve the controlled release of biocides directly into microbial clumps with little leaching of the chemicals into the watery medium.
Kodak scientists unexpectedly discovered the slow-release technology while researching ways of controlling biofilm growth in photo processing solutions, according to Kodak's Stoffel.
Those slow-release properties could be useful in other settings, such as a coating inside urinary tract catheters to prevent infections, said biofilm center deputy director Phil Stewart. Antimicrobial catheters currently exist but use a silver metal coating that may be less effective than the controlled-release biocides.
The biocides may also be good candidates for cleaning water used in manufacturing situations where purity is especially important, Stewart said.
Biofilm center scientists will conduct feasibility studies during the next two years to evaluate how well the biocides work in these two settings, then move forward on licensing the technologies if the results look good. The donation from Kodak includes patents and patent applications in both the United States and overseas as well as a grant to support the continuing research.
Both Zelver and Stewart said any commercial potential from the invention could be obtained by licensing the technology either to an existing company or to a start-up company in Montana.
"We understand that it's a win-win situation to try to commercialize in Montana if that's a sensible way to do it," Stewart said.
Contact: Nick Zelver, (406) 994-7706; Paul Sturman, (406) 994-2102