Dye Seed Ranch, a seed processing and production company based in Pomeroy, Wash., sought technical expertise for its turf grass seed operation from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Laboratory scientists linked them with Russian scientists who had developed a plant growth stimulator and an oil remediation biotechnology. The Russian scientists work at Biochimmash, a former Soviet weapons development center, the prestigious Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Russian State Institute for Gas and Oil.
In August, Dye Seed and scientists from PNNL and the three Russian organizations will be testing the plant growth stimulator and oil-eating microbes throughout the Northwest. The testing follows the signing of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement in June that formalized Dye Seed's interest in pursuing commercial opportunities with PNNL and the Russians.
DOE's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program funded the laboratory studies and subsequent verification tests that will be performed at PNNL. IPP (www.nn.doe.gov/ipp.shtml) was established in 1994 to create non-defense jobs for former Soviet weapons scientists by linking them with U.S. companies interested in commercializing their non-weapons technologies.
"We couldn't do any of this without the laboratory and IPP," said Steve Stilson, Dye Seed general manager. "The preliminary lab results for these projects are very promising. If these field tests show potential, it would be beyond my wildest dreams."