Totally awesome since the 1980s

Posted: April 22, 2014 - 5:50pm

Y‑12’s Ron Simandl and John Brown began teaming in the 1980s when they researched alternative materials for everyday laboratory operations. “Much of our work was in response to environmental drivers,” Simandl said.

Recently, the duo (along with Tammy Graham, who worked the commercialization aspect) was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy for their sustainable inventions.

The team received the Change Agent 2013 DOE Sustainability Award. “It makes us proud to see the good greening work Y‑12 employees are doing be recognized by DOE,” Sustainability and Stewardship Program Manager Jan Jackson said.

During the 80s, the Environmental Protection Agency established acts and regulations that affected work at manufacturing plants.

“The EPA phased out or even outlawed the use of various solvents, resins, etc., and we were tasked with looking for alternatives,” Simandl said. “Fluorinated solvents were forced upon us because the EPA totally outlawed the use of chlorinated solvents.

“Our contribution was to get one of the two commercial fluorinated solvents to actually work for us. They are rather unforgiving and have to be tweaked to get them to work,” Simandl explained.

What started as problem-solving for Y‑12 turned into more. Simandl said he and Brown “were only trying to solve plant problems. In two cases, the inventions had broader application. The broad application and effectiveness of RonJohn® solvent was a big surprise.”

Simandl said, “I guess we just got lucky,” when talking about their success; this dynamic duo is one Y‑12 is happy to have.