INEEL-inspired spinoff firm, NanoSteel, expected to employ 250 in Idaho Falls, ID

A new firm that could bring 250 jobs to eastern Idaho has been spun off by the Idaho National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory.

Associated Press The Spokesman Review

The NanoSteel Co. produces a coating that can be sprayed on metal to increase hardness and decrease corrosion. The "Super Hard Steel" was developed by a scientist at the Idaho National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory and licensed to MILCOM Technologies, a Florida venture firm that specializes in developing new companies.

"They’re in the process of putting together a plan for building a production facility here and they anticipate growing rapidly," said Lyman Frost, INEEL’s director of technology transfer and commercialization. "Within three years, they could have 250 people employed there."

Licensing technology developed by INEEL scientists has become an increasing mission for that site, Frost said, and eight companies have been spawned in less than three years. All but one has located in Idaho.

"Last year, INEEL received $580,000 in licensing fees from various companies," said Frost. "The year before, INEEL received $350,000."

The laboratory could earn millions of dollars in potential licensing fees from The NanoSteel Co., said Frost, depending on how well the firm does.

The company’s first commercial product, Super Hard Steel, already has been released for commercial distribution. The thermal spray coating prevents wear, corrosion and erosion, and bonds strongly to copper and aluminum.

Joe Buffa, chief executive officer of the company, said the product increases "the durability and life cycle of a multitude of products in various industries. Initial interest in this product has been phenomenal."

INEEL scientist Daniel Branagan developed the coating using a process called nanotechnology, which creates and manipulates molecular structures to create new materials. Branagan has taken a leave of absence from the laboratory to be NanoSteel’s chief technical officer.

The NanoSteel Co. currently has five employees and is leasing space in Idaho Falls.

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