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eMembrane - IC Report Red Herring Newsletters April May 2004 (Page 13)

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eMembrane - IC Report Red Herring Newsletters April May 2004
cause the contaminants to be released.
The flaw in Farrant's success was in the fabric ­ there's
little use in regenerating carbon fabric already badly dam-
aged by exposure to 900 F ­ so Farant spent the next 12
years developing a process to activate an organic fabric at
temperatures lower than 400 F.
His answer is a low-heat activation process that yields
three times more activated carbon fabric than previous
methods. Farrant's technique also reduces the amount of
chemicals and energy needed and thereby cuts the cost
of activated carbon fabric from $40-$60 per square foot
to about $10 per square foot.
CarboPur has a patent pending on Farrant's low-cost
activation process, which works by a novel combination
of chemicals and heating method that the company
declines to describe in detail.
CarboPur's low-cost activated carbon fabric is aimed
not only at the market for chemical and biological pro-
tective clothing for the militar y but also at the market for
reusable air and water purification systems.
CarboPur's competition includes activated carbon
fabric manufacturers like Actitex in France and Taiwan
Carbon Technology Co. No other company has yet devel-
oped a low-cost activation process for carbon fabrics.
CarboPur has raised $600,000 Canadian in seed
money from MSBI Capital and will begin seeking its first
round of financing shortly.
Chris Arsenault, a par tner at MSBI Capital, believes
CarboPur will soon be on the radar screen of venture
capitalists, especially since it falls within the white-hot
nanotechnology sector, and since there's more to the
company than pure science, as it's actually applying its
technology to existing markets. "The company is focused
on delivering a new commercial product that is both
more economically attractive to industrial and residential
customers and more absorptive than anything currently
on the market."
Threat-Analysis Mass Spectrometer
West Lafayette, Indiana
t's no surprise that the U.S. Army has taken an interest
in Grif fin Analytical Technologies. The three-year-old
star tup has developed a tool that can quickly detect
chemical or biological threats in the air and is small
enough to fit in a backpack.
Typically, mass spectrometers are the size of an SUV,
which makes them unsuitable for combat missions.
Leveraging technology licensed from Purdue University,
Grif fin Analytical is commercializing the first compact,
light-weight mass spectrometer, dubbed Minotaur.
Minotaur's cylindrical ion trap can identify minute
concentrations of chemicals in the air, water and soil,
then confirm the presence of the chemicals through an
elaborate process called multidimensional mass analysis.
Minotaur is not just smaller than anything that has
come before, it's also more accurate, company of ficials
say. Previous technologies used to detect chemical threats
were notorious for their high rate of false alarms. But
Minotaur's ability to first identify toxins and then con-
firm the findings give it a considerable advantage over
other technologies.
Besides militar y applications, Minotaur could poten-
tially be used to detect ever ything from explosives in
public places to air quality in buildings to pesticide
r unof f in a farm field. Grif fin Analytical has yet to
announce customers. Minotaur is priced at $75,000.
Grif fin was cofounded by Dennis J. Barket Jr. and
Garth Patterson. Both were chemistr y graduate students
at Purdue before forming the company. Patterson had
been working since 1996 to build a smaller spectrometer
as a research project. He based his work on proprietar y
technology already established at Purdue.
Industr y obser vers say Minotaur seems able to accom-
plish in the field what was once only achievable in the lab-
orator y. The company's investors, meanwhile, believe
Minotuar has the power to create new markets where pre-
viously price, capability and size prohibited potential cus-
tomers from using mass spectrometr y as an analysis tool.
Currently the market for spectrometers is $2 billion to $3
billion worldwide and Grif fin hopes to car ve out a small
piece of that. Griffin has received roughly $1 million from
the U.S. Depar tment of Defense. The company has also
raised $2 million from Indiana 21st Centur y Fund and
Rose-Hulman Ventures.
VOL. 2, NO. 4, 5
Copyright © 2004 Red Herring, Inc. / IC Report. All rights reserved.
Griffin Analytical's mass
spectrometer is not only
smaller, it's more accurate,
the company claims. Where
other chemical-detection
technologies are notorious
for false alarms, the
Minotaur identifies toxins
then confirms the findings.
Jean Pierre Farant spent 12 years
developing a process to activate an organic
fabric at temperatures lower than 400 F.
IC RATING (scale 1­10)

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