FLC award

Steve Hammon of Rocky Mountain Scientific Corporation with the phosphate sponge which won a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Outstanding Partnership.

Idaho National Laboratory has been honored with two Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards in 2018 in the Far West Region.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium is a formally chartered organization mandated by Congress to promote, educate and facilitate technology transfer among more than 300 federal laboratories, research centers and agencies nationwide, an INL news release said. The Far West region, which includes over 50 laboratories in the Western states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, honors achievements by member laboratories each year in a number of categories.

INL’s winners will be recognized at the Federal Laboratory Consortium later this month.

n Gary Smith, INL commercialization manager, along with Steve Hammon and Mike Irish of industry partner Rocky Mountain Scientific Corporation were awarded the Outstanding Partnership Award for their work on a phosphate sponge. The sponge has “the potential to alleviate one of the world’s most challenging environmental issues: toxic algae blooms,” the release said.

Phosphate pollution in U.S. waterways costs industry and taxpayers billions of dollars annually and is causing a public health crisis in the form of a toxic microorganism that thrives in phosphate-rich waters. Toxic cyanobacteria algae blooms — the green blobs of goop that are choking freshwater lakes, ponds and other waterways across the globe — feed on phosphate from sources such as sewage treatment plants, concentrated animal feeding operations and fertilizer runoff. Human activities have nearly quadrupled the amount of phosphates found naturally in freshwater, the release said.

Excessive algae concentrations produce a thick, noxious, foul-smelling plume, often with a green color. When algae die, they are eaten by bacteria which leads to a lack of dissolved oxygen in water and dead fish populations. he algae blooms result in dead zones and have been linked to degradation of water quality, destruction of fisheries, and public health risks.

The phosphate sponge is designed to help solve this problem by removing phosphorous from water and preventing these toxic outbreaks before they occur. This porous bead composite material is created by combining the innovations of Rocky Mountain Scientific and INL.

n INL researchers Todd Vollmer, Craig Rieger and Milos Manic won the Outstanding Technology Development Award for the Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor, an artificial intelligence breakthrough that can protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from devastating cyberattack.

The Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor works autonomously to give industries the power to quickly identify and divert hackers, using machine learning to identify and map industrial control systems so it can recognize anomalous network traffic, alert operators, and deploy virtual decoys to slow or halt hacking attempts, the release said.

Unlike existing rule-based cybersecurity systems, the sensor recognizes anomalies, even if it has never seen them before, the release said. Following installation on an industrial control system and an initial learning phase, the sensor continues to update what it knows about the control system, automatically adapting and remapping as it goes. ///

Because it works autonomously, the Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor is able to recognize, gather information, and divert potential attacks within seconds of the appearance of an anomaly. AICS can not only respond far faster than a human operator could, it can detect and respond to intruders before system operators even know the intruder is there.

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