LSU Louisiana Technology Transfer Office Client Earns Spot in NASA Competition for 3D-Printed Filtration Masks to Help Healthcare Workers, Astronauts

OrganicNANO, a biotech company from Ruston, Louisiana won NASA iTech’s “Ignite the Night” virtual pitch competition last month and is now a semifinalist among 25 companies nation-wide. Its nanotechnologies, which provide biomedical solutions on an atomic or molecular scale, could help protect healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 as well as astronauts during space explorations.

 

OrganicNANO filtration unit

OrganicNANO's 3D-printed mask holds a patented filtration unit that blocks pathogens larger than 50 nanometers and utilizes metal ions and drugs to enhance its antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties.

 

OrganicNANO, a small business from Ruston, Louisiana is developing a 3D-printed mask with enhanced filtration capabilities that may improve personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals battling today’s pandemic as well as astronauts on missions in outer space. Their patented filtration unit blocks pathogens larger than 50 nanometers and utilizes metal ions and drugs to enhance its antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Following OrganicNANO’s win at NASA iTech’s “Ignite the Night” virtual pitch event last month, their technology will now be evaluated by NASA, and organicNANO has a chance to be selected as one of the top 10 finalists who will be presenting at the NASA iTech Cycle II Forum in Tinton Falls, New Jersey later this year.
 
NASA iTech program identifies cutting-edge technologies that solve problems here on Earth but have the potential to also address some of the challenges posed by further exploration of the Moon and Mars. Chris Miller, OrganicNANO director of research, made the virtual pitch and is both humbled by the win and encouraged by the networking and support the venture has received so far.
 
Dr. Ramona Pelletier Travis, NASA chief technologist at the John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC), has been an integral part of the NASA iTech program since its inception four years ago and remarked on the possible benefits and scope of organicNANO’s work.
 
“The organicNANO technology has potential for filtering air in our crewed spacecraft and for use in airlock environments of future space habitats on the surface of the Moon where we would want to limit the entrance of lunar dust into living portions of the habitat,” she said.

 

With help from the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office (LTTO), organicNANO won a Department of Defense STTR Phase 1 award through the Air Force innovation AFWERX program last year to advance their work.


Miller and his colleague AJ McFarland are PhD candidates and researchers in Professor David Mills’ BioMorph Lab at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, which has patented the filtration technology. Mills is the owner of organicNANO, as well as a professor of biological sciences at the Louisiana Tech University Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Sciences. He’s elated by his company’s success in the ongoing NASA competition.
 
“I’m excited by NASA’s interest in the technology for their space missions as well as for the current COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
 
OrganicNANO has received support and small business training from the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office (LTTO) with offices in the Louisiana Business & Technology Center (LBTC), part of LSU Innovation Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and at the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. With help from the LTTO, organicNANO won a Department of Defense STTR Phase 1 award through the Air Force innovation AFWERX program last year to advance their work.
 
“It’s the long-standing dedication by the LTTO to support the development and growth of technology businesses across Louisiana that has established the foundation that is now helping to launch these types of ventures and giving life to their ingenious solutions,” said Kathy Wyatt, director of Enterprise Campus at Louisiana Tech University.
 
Vic Johnson, manager of the Louisiana Tech Transfer Office at Stennis, appreciates working in close proximity to NASA.
 
“The LTTO has a long-standing working partnership with NASA at Stennis, officially authorized by the state of Louisiana through the Governor’s office,” he said. “Through our presence here, we are able to connect universities, small technology-oriented companies, and entrepreneurs across Louisiana with NASA and other federal labs.”
 
The LTTO/LBTC are designated by the state and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Innovation as the official support organizations for the Small Business Innovation Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program in Louisiana. This allows the LTTO to provide a wide variety of support for companies like organicNANO in their efforts to pursue and win SBIR-STTR awards for new and innovative technologies.

 

 

Elsa Hahne
LSU Office of Research & Economic Development
225-578-4774
ehahne@lsu.edu

 

Lindsey Schexnayder
LSU Innovation Park
225-578-7555
lsche14@lsu.edu