Argonne mentor researchers critical to success of Chain Reaction Innovations

Founding mentors recognized with Impact Argonne Awards

A key component to the success of Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) and the innovators who come to Argonne to do their two-year fellowship are the Argonne researchers who act as mentors.

Matched with CRI innovators based on common research expertise/interest, the mentors play a critical role in helping these entrepreneurs mature their technologies. They help the innovators make the most of Argonne’s expertise, tools, and facilities and work alongside them in the lab.

“CRI’s goal is to drive maximum impact for both the innovators and for Argonne,” CRI Director John Carlisle said.

In recognition of this critical work and the trailblazing role they played, CRI presented Impact Argonne Awards on Sept. 18 to four founding researchers who mentored CRI’s first cohort of innovators.

The researchers — all from the Energy and Global Security directorate — were recognized for their outstanding support of CRI’s first cohort of energy entrepreneurs, who graduated from the program in the summer of 2019. The researchers are:

  • Meltem Urgun-Demirtas, group leader, Bioprocesses & Reactive Separations
  • Douglas Longman, section manager, Engine Combustion Research
  • Munidhar Biruduganti, principal engine research engineer
  • Sergey Chemerisov, manager, IVEM/LEAF

The four researchers mentored and guided CRI’s first two-year cohort. Their efforts helped not only mature technologies associated with each entrepreneur’s project, but also shaped the methods CRI, Argonne, and the U.S. Department of Energy use to support innovators. Their expertise, mentoring, and guidance were vital to the early achievements of the first CRI entrepreneur cohort, paving the way for future program successes.

“The founding PIs played a dynamic role in CRI’s early successes and they’re still helping us improve the program,” Carlisle said. “It’s a great privilege to work with these internationally recognized researchers who propel Argonne’s science and tech innovations into the real world.”

PI-Innovator Achievements

  • Urgun-Demirtas worked with Justin Whiteley and Tyler Huggins to develop and scale up new bio-inspired processes for sustainable protein production.
  • Longman guided Julie Blumreiter and BJ Johnson at the Center for Transportation Research to establish a viable path for the conversion of diesel engines to sustainable fuels.
  • Biruduganti, together with other scientists at the Advanced Photon Source and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, helped Felipe Gomez del Campo to better understand how plasma technology can enhance jet turbine performance.
  • Chemerisov worked with Ian Hamilton at Argonne’s LEAF facility to develop a thermionic energy converter.

To learn about possibly being a mentor to a CRI innovator(s), contact .

To date, CRI innovators and their PIs have produced $53.2 million in economic impact and helped create 105 jobs. All four of the first cohort companies have successfully set up their manufacturing businesses, currently located in Boulder, Colo., Boston, Seattle, and Chicago.

CRI projects have also led to several pioneering discoveries and the establishment of new capabilities within Argonne.

The early successes established CRI as a new engagement model for private industry to work with Argonne. These partnerships leverage externally developed energy innovations into applications with high societal and economic impact.

For more information, visit the CRI website.

Questions? Contact .

Chain Reaction Innovations is a two-year program for innovators focusing on energy and science technologies. Through an annual call for innovators, four to six teams are selected each year to join CRI. Program participants receive financial and technical support to perform early-stage research and development with the goal to launch energy or manufacturing businesses.

The program teaches the entrepreneurship skills needed to develop transformative clean tech and innovations in advanced manufacturing. 

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