TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- University of Tulsa researchers are looking for new feasts for some toxin-eating technology developed by DuPont.
The nation's largest chemical company has given the university its patent for beads housing microorganisms that munch on hazardous substances and render them harmless.
"We are confident that these beads are going to have widespread applications," said Kerry Sublette, a Tulsa chemical engineering professor who is already working with the porous, polymer beads.
The beads are known by the trademarked name Bio-Sep. They are about the size of BB gun pellets and contain microorganisms that absorb harmful bacteria.
Sublette sees many applications, including the removal of hydrogen sulfide from natural gas. Researchers at TU will test that application next year.
"If they can recover the hydrogen sulfide, they can get a lot more money for their gas," he said of natural gas producers.
The technology was invented by DuPont researchers Carl Camp, a TU alumnus, and Tom Bair.
DuPont officials said researchers sometimes generate more ideas than the company can develop into products or make discoveries that do not match the company's future plans.
"We generate a lot of intellectual property that we cannot use," said Jay Rappaport, DuPont's director of business and technology licensing. "Why let it sit in a laboratory on a shelf?"
He said DuPont donated the patent to Tulsa because the university has the expertise and the equipment needed to enhance the technology.