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Company

Company Overview

Advanced Fuel Research, Inc. (AFR) celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in early 2010.

The Company currently has 11 full-time employees and 14,000 sq. ft. of office and laboratory space. Click on the following for more background information on our senior management and officers and more information on our facilities and equipment.

The company has developed leading edge technologies in a number of areas:

bulletCombustion monitoring and control, using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and other optical methods.
bulletSurface-Enhanced Raman spectroscopy for trace chemical analysis.
bulletEnergy conversion (primarily biomass and waste pyrolysis, including fuel processing and gas storage components for fuel cells).
bulletAdvanced thin film materials for electronic devices and semiconductors.

AFR has successfully developed, through government and industrial support, a number of innovative laboratory and process control instruments and software products that are today serving industrial and academic clients throughout the world.

AFR also performs Contract Research and Development for research institutes and private organizations.

AFR often works on projects in collaboration with other small businesses, large companies, national laboratories, universities, and consultants. Many of these interactions have occurred through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) projects.

AFR typically makes at least 10 presentations per year at national and international conferences. Examples include meetings of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Materials Research Society (MRS), American Carbon Society, The International Society of Optical Engineers (SPIE), International Symposium on Combustion, Pittsburgh Coal Conference, International Conference on Coal Science, Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Air and Waste Management Association. In addition, AFR scientists have been actively involved in organizing symposia, in the governance of professional societies, and in standards organizations.

AFR has published more than 300 papers in conference proceedings, book chapters, encyclopedia chapters, and referred journals. Some of these journals include: Fuel, Energy & Fuel, Combustion & Flame, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Biomass & Bioenergy, Journal of Solar Process Engineering, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry, Journal of Fire Sciences, Applied Spectroscopy, Fuel Processing Technology, Physics Review Letters, Applied Physics Letters, Bulletin of the American Physical Society, Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology, Sensors, Review of Scientific Instruments, Progress in Energy & Combustion Science, Tappi Journal, Journal of Heat Transfer, Analytical Chemistry and Organic Geochemistry.

AFR has considerable expertise in electronic materials and devices (EMD) and carbon materials (carbon fibers, fullerenes, diamond, advanced carbon sorbents). The Company has completed several projects on fabrication of IR detector devices (bolometers) from thin films of YBaCuO and on diamond film growth, and has pursued research on carbon fibers from lignin, carbon-based sorbents for gas storage, and the synthesis of fullerenes.

Company History

Advanced Fuel Research, Inc. (AFR) was founded in 1980 by Dr. Peter Solomon, Dr. David Hamblen and Ms. Sally Solomon. The initial focus was to use advanced Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy methods to understand the starting composition of coal, and to follow its behavior during thermal degradation reactions (pyrolysis). The insights developed by these experimental methods led to an advanced coal-pyrolysis model, FG-DVC, which is now in use in more than 50 laboratories worldwide. The model was later applied to predict the pyrolysis behavior of lignin, biomass, and waste materials (e.g., used tires).

The FT-IR diagnostic techniques that were initially developed for studying the reactions of coal and related materials were subsequently extended to a wide range of applications in order to measure gas compositions and temperatures, particle size distributions, number densities and temperatures, and the thickness, temperature, optical properties, and composition of thin films. Through this research, the AFR scientists and engineers became pioneers in infrared instrumentation and its applications, producing numerous patents and publications. Three original products, a combination of a thermogravimetric analyzer and an FT-IR analyzer (TG-FTIR), a simultaneous emission / transmission (E/T) FT-IR instrument, and a bench-top emissometer system motivated AFR to create a spin-off company, On-Line Technologies Inc., (On-Line). On-Line was founded in 1991, with the mission of commercializing AFR's FT-IR technologies. AFR now is a valued-added-reseller and custom integrator of On-Line's products. More recently, AFR has developed significant capabilities in FT-Raman spectroscopy for monitoring polymerization reactions and Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) for the analysis of DNA and trace chemical detection (e.g., for drug discovery and development).

Commercialization

AFR's has developed a successful strategy for commercialization of advanced technologies. The first step is to work closely with industrial strategic partners (often starting in Phase I of technology development) to develop technology based upon real customer needs. AFR may then seek additional development funding from industry or government. AFR then sells its first commercial units directly to its industrial partners and other industrial "early adopters". A comprehensive business plan is created, and when a technology/market combination demonstrates enough promise to exist profitably on its own, based upon initial customer responses and business plan analysis, a free-standing spin off firm, to make and sell products, is created. AFR technology is transferred or licensed to that spin-off company. 

For example, a number of key AFR patents were transferred to a spin-off company partially owned by AFR shareholders. This spin-off firm, On-Line is manufacturing and marketing gas-state sensors, wafer-state sensors (for the semiconductor manufacturing industry), process control software, and thin film monitors. On-Line is now a part of MKS Instruments Corporation. An additional spin-off company was created in 2001, Real-Time Analyzers (Continuous, real-time, trace chemical detection).  TurboSense is a potential future spin-off company.

Thermogravimetric analysis, with FT-IR analysis of the evolved products (TG-FTIR), was developed with governmental support and ABB Bomem, Inc. successfully marketed instruments under license. (www.bomem.com) The company's FG-DVC (Functional-Group, Depolymerization, Vaporization, Crosslinking) model, also developed with government support, is a comprehensive code for predicting yields and compositions of coal, biomass and waste pyrolysis products that is now in use at more than 50 domestic and international laboratories. FT-IR combustion monitoring hardware and software has been sold directly by AFR to industrial and academic customers, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, ABB Combustion Engineering, Brigham Young University, Factory Mutual Research Corp., Babcock & Wilcox, Dow Chemical USA, Air Liquide, 3M, NASA Glenn Research Center, and Arizona State University. AFR has a close working relationship with the University of Connecticut, and the president of AFR serves on the industrial advisory board of UCONN's Department of Chemical Engineering.

 

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For More Information Contact:
Advanced Fuel Research, Inc.
87 Church Street, East Hartford, CT 06108
Tel: 860-528-9806
Fax: 860-528-0648
 

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Last modified V3: September 18, 2009