The doctor is INnovative

Posted: May 7, 2014 - 5:32pm | Y-12 Report | Volume 10, Issue 2 | 2014

Blending Y‑12’s support of education with the site’s research challenges, Rusty Hallman has earned academic degrees, patents and a reputation for reliable R&D solutions.

Researcher Rusty Hallman’s 30‑year career has been filled with problems. He likes it that way. The inventor relishes the problem-solving opportunities his Y‑12 career provides and the fact that his inventions benefit Y‑12’s production mission, as well as industry.

“I enjoy learning, working toward goals and coming up with solutions,” Hallman said. “Problems provide me with every opportunity I need; the more difficult they are, the better the opportunity.”

Hallman specializes in the study of moisture transport across polymers and in explorations into metals, chemical process system development and instrumentation. His unorthodox approach to research crosses the lines between various disciplines and combines his formal engineering training with his innate mechanical aptitude.

He hired into Y‑12’s research and development division as a technician in 1984 after earning an associate’s degree in chemical engineering technology. Since then, his contributions to the Defense Programs mission have earned him eight patents, with one more pending, while he concurrently completed four university degrees.

His invention Extrans is a material permeance measurement system and method for studying the moisture transport rate across polymer films. Extrans ensures the integrity of Y‑12 materials and can be used in moisture-sensitive products manufactured by pharmaceutical and food industries.

This patented technology was the subject of the dissertation for Hallman’s Ph.D., awarded in polymer engineering in 2013. Also while at Y‑12, he completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration, bachelor’s in chemical engineering and master’s in materials science and engineering.

“I’ve participated in the company’s Educational Assistance Program for almost 30 years,” Hallman said. “Y‑12 has provided me with an income, growth opportunities, university study and work schedule flexibility.”

Such partnerships are mutually beneficial. Y‑12 can steer the employee toward learning the technical information the site needs. And both parties benefit from the individual’s increasing job skills and new knowledge. Hallman’s accomplishments are proof that the relationship works.

His latest discovery, with colleague Ed Ripley, is a processing method for nonferrous metals that uses magnetic fields to manipulate the metals’ microstructure. The Magnofex process provides a simple way to control the grain structure of these metals to enhance their strength and properties. Lead-free solders, which are nonferrous metals, can greatly benefit from the presence of magnetic fields during soldering. The researchers are further exploring issues with lead-free solder in manufacturing.

Hallman welcomes the new challenge. “I derive a great deal of pleasure out of what I do.”