Education

UH showcases latest inventions in effort to expedite commercialization

Many of the inventions at the showcase were focused on the energy industry. The university plans to have three to four showcases each year.

Kopikah Tharmakulasingham is a student at University of Houston. She presented a new method to detect corrosion in oil, gas, or water wells.
Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media
Kopikah Tharmakulasingham is a student at the University of Houston. She presented a new method to detect corrosion in oil, gas, or water wells.

New inventions can sometimes take more than a decade to reach the market they were invented for. The University of Houston showcased some of its latest inventions last Tuesday in an effort to expedite their commercialization.

Vice President of Energy and Innovation, Ramanan Krishnamoorti said many of the inventions at the showcase have been demonstrated in a lab, but now need to be more sustainable.

"If it has bad consequences for people when we manufacture, that's going to be a challenge. The university typically can't figure out all of those things and that's why we sort of work with the industry to find ways to take these and start to commercialize them out," he said.

Krishnamoorti said while this is the first showcase, the university plans to have three to four each year. He said inventors can potentially commercialize their discoveries in three to five years.

Many of the inventions at this showcase were focused on the energy industry.

"We're starting to think about, how do I take the 500,000 miles of pipeline that exists in the state of Texas, largely for oil and gas, and start to say, ‘what if I start to move towards a hydrogen economy? How do I repurpose that pipeline?'" Krishnamoorti said.

He said one of the inventions pitched at the showcase serves as a coating for existing natural gas pipelines to be compatible with hydrogen.

Kopikah Tharmakulasingham is part of the division of energy and innovation at the Univesity of Houston. She presented a new method to detect corrosion in oil, gas, or water wells.

"This can also be applied in... other civil engineering construction like bridges, pipes, tunnels," Tharmakulasingham said. "It will prevent structural failures from corrosion."

Rice University introduced an accelerator for the medical field earlier this year to expedite commercialization.

"There's so many more ideas here if people knew they had the infrastructure," said President of the Texas Medical Center, William McKeon. "And what's sad is most of the great intellectual ideas die in the intellectual offices of universities throughout this country,"