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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Microflow CVO, a company spun off from research in the Oregon State University Microproducts Breakthrough Institute (MBI), has launched its first product line of stainless steel micromixers. Inside the precision-engineered devices, which are about the size of a dime, is a multilayer network of channels designed to meet manufacturer needs in the pharmaceutical, petrochemical, personal-care product and other industries.
The problem that Microflow CVO has addressed seems simple: how to mix two liquids with consistently high-quality results. Manufacturers commonly perform this step in large vats where batches of liquids are stirred and then processed.
In contrast, so-called “microfluidic technologies” push liquids through channels slightly larger than a human hair where mixing occurs under precisely controlled conditions. Microflow CVO’s stainless steel microreactors perform better and cost less than devices currently on the market. They can be customized easily for existing processing operations, said Todd Miller, prototyping manager at the MBI and president of the new firm.
Located in the MBI building on the Corvallis HP campus, the company currently offers two products for sale and will expand its offerings to more than 15 by the end of the calendar year, providing options in flow rates, fluid inputs and operational scale.
Miller has developed and tested micromixers to produce copper nanoparticles, a collaborative effort with the company’s chief technology officer Scott Gilbert, OSU chemistry professor Vincent Remcho and the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. With proof-of-concept in hand, Miller applied for and received “gap funding” assistance through the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), which supports efforts to commercialize technology originating from the Oregon University System. “ONAMI has been critical to this whole process,” said Miller. “Without ONAMI, we wouldn’t be here.”
A market analysis by the OSU College of Business estimates the global micromixer (also called “microreactors”) market in the life sciences at $2 billion. “It’s a rapidly changing and growing market,” said John Turner, OSU instructor and CEO of Microflow CVO. He and OSU MBA student Ken True identified more than 1,000 researchers at 270 institutions in 30 countries using microreactors in pharmaceutical research. “We expect the market to exceed $3 billion by 2014. And that’s only in the life sciences. Other chemical manufacturing markets raise the potential for these products,” added Turner.
Miller said the company has licensed rights to patent applications he has made over the past five years while at OSU.
More information is available at Microflow CVO.
This story is adapted form the original Oregon State University press release dated May 8, 2012..