Intellectual Property

1. Differentially Pumped Dual Linear Quadrupole Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer

Authors: Owen BC, Kenttämaa HI
Funding sponsor: DOE
Reported to sponsor: DOE on August 22, 2011
Status: September 28, 2011: filed a provisional patent application #61/537,949;
September 24, 2012: converted to a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) International Application for Patent
In discussions with Thermo Fisher Scientific for commercialization
In collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific, C3Bio has developed a unique mass spectrometry system to provide structural information for molecules directly in complex mixtures, such as biomass degradation products that can consist of thousands of unknown compounds. Previous instruments used for this type of research, such as dual-cell FT-ICR mass spectrometers, are obsolete, expensive to maintain, need highly-trained operators and lack the required sensitivity and dynamic range. Identification of previously unknown compounds often requires several different types of reactions in sequence, but commercial mass spectrometers are not configured to allow sequential reactions. Thus, we combined two commercial linear quadrupole ion trap (LQIT) mass spectrometers within a differentially pumped vacuum chamber to allow for the isolation of ionized compounds from the mixture in one mass spectrometer followed by the examination of their reaction products in the first as well as the second mass spectrometer, the latter being free of all unwanted chemicals. This differentially-pumped dual linear quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer (named TWIN) is the most versatile tandem mass spectrometer to date.
C3Bio developed the tandem MS concept and fabricated the vacuum connection piece (in Purdue’s Jonathan Amy Facility for Chemical Instrumentation) between two Thermo Fisher Scientific LQIT mass spectrometers. Thermo provided the connector design and developed the software to interface the two machines. Pending further testing, Thermo may commercialize a variant of the TWIN instrument for the life sciences and analytical chemistry market.

2. Novel Sample Deposition Chamber for Laser-Induced Acoustic Desorption (LIAD) Foils

Authors: Borton DJ, Vinueza NR, Amundson LM, Hurt MR, Kenttämaa HI
Funding sponsors: DOE and NSF
Reported to sponsor: October 26, 2011
Status: November 22, 2011: filed a provisional patent application;

3. Production of Molecules in the Fuel Range by Selective Tailoring of Biomass Fast Pyrolysis

Authors: Ribeiro FH, Agrawal R, Delgass WN, Gawecki P
Funding sponsor: Air Force Office of Scientific Research and NSF (conceptualization) and DOE (proof of concept reactor)
Status: August 24, 2011: filed a provisional patent application #61/527,051
Technology is being further revised for additional applications
Present market has many competing technologies
In collaboration with aerospace scientists at Purdue, C3Bio has designed, built and tested a high-pressure, low-residence-time hydro-pyrolysis unit (a Rocket Reactor) to convert biomass compounds into fuel molecules. The reactor, with in situ heat generation by H2/O2 combustion and biomass feed rates up to 40 g min-1, can pyrolyze about 30 grams of product per run. Biomass subjected to pyrolysis breaks down into its molecular building blocks and these building blocks subsequently recombine in the gas phase. By controlling the temperature, reagent concentrations and time of these recombination reactions, we can tailor the product distribution into molecules with a narrow molecular weight range. This will make further catalytic upgrading to fuels feasible.