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Remembering the man who made Battelle possible, as well as the organization’s impact over the years in Columbus, the U.S. and the world.



14 National Lab Management



Charitable work was a key part of Battelle’s founding charter; here is how that mission lives on in the present day.

Battelle’s employees work to solve problems in a wide range of subject areas.

Through its management of national labs, Battelle ensures that innovation and research reach all corners of the U.S.

Battelle has helped develop many of the products and services you use on a daily basis.

A look at four global challenges that Battelle researchers are addressing today.

62 E. Broad St. P.O. Box 1289 Columbus, Ohio 43216 614-888-4567

505 King Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43201

President & CEO

Lewis Von Thaer

SVP, Marketing & Communications Patrick Jarvis

Media Relations Director Katy Delaney

Senior Media Specialist T.R. Massey

President Bradley M. Harmon Publisher Ray Paprocki project manager Emma Frankart Henterly

Production/Design Director Craig Rusnak Art Director Alyse Pasternak Contributors Laura Arenschield, TC Brown, Kathy Lynn Gray

All photos are property of Battelle unless otherwise noted. Battelle: 90 Years Solving is published by GateHouse Media, LLC. All contents of this magazine are copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved. Reproduction or use, without written permission, of editorial or graphic content in any manner is prohibited.


90 years of Innovation

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90 Years of Innovation at Battelle In August 1929, Battelle opened its doors for the first time in Columbus, Ohio. Ninety years and countless inventions later, we remain headquartered at 505 King Ave. and are as relevant as ever. While there are plenty of American science and technology companies, only a handful have the longevity of Battelle. And none of them shares our unique mission of advancing scientific discoveries and technology breakthroughs for societal benefit. As a charitable trust founded through the last will and testament of Gordon Battelle, we reinvest our earnings into research and development and the betterment of our communities. It is not an exaggeration to say that Battelle’s inventions have improved peoples’ lives. Our mission takes that a step further by ensuring a significant portion of the company’s profits are reinvested in the community through philanthropic contributions, with a focus on improving education. As an engineer who was the first in my family to earn a college degree, I know just how important it is to have access and exposure to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). While you likely know the name Battelle, you may not know exactly who we are and

what we do. In the pages that follow, we’ll tell you how we came into existence, what we have done, what we are working on today and why we believe Battelle is essential to the safety and well-being of our world. As the world’s largest nonprofit independent research and development company, Battelle designs and manufactures products and delivers critical services for government agencies and commercial businesses. We have a proven history of breakthroughs in health, energy, environment, agribusiness and national security, and we are known for our role in managing national laboratories for the United States government.

I believe that Gordon Battelle would be proud, and perhaps a bit overwhelmed, to walk the halls and see the remarkable work we’re doing each and every day. While he may not have realized it when he wrote his will, what he invented was a unique research and development organization that amplified his family’s spirit of philanthropic giving and inspired other great leaders of Central Ohio. As a result, Columbus enjoys one of the highest per capita philanthropic giving rates in the country. The following pages contain stories about our history; a celebration of our employees, who we call Solvers; information about our philanthropy and commitment to STEM education; our major role in managing the nation’s premier science laboratories for the government; and finally, four areas (out of many) where we are focusing our efforts because they represent some of the most pressing science and technology challenges for the coming years. Please join me in celebrating Battelle’s 90th anniversary.

Lou Von Thaer President and CEO

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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Gorden Battelle

Annie Battelle

Gordon Battelle: The Lasting Legacy of A Visionary Gordon Battelle was a metallurgist who combined considerable business acumen with an early and persistent interest in using science to solve problems. And it was Battelle, before he died in 1923 at age 40, who is arguably responsible for enabling many major scientific achievements during the last nine decades. Battelle had a far-reaching vision and a tenacious conviction that science, and the discoveries and inventions it fosters, was an influential force that could solve humanity’s problems and pave the way to a better life for all. Battelle believed so strongly that science could improve people’s lives that he bequeathed a large portion of his estate to

the formation of an uncommon trust that bears his family name: the Battelle Memorial Institute. Today Battelle, headquartered in Columbus, is the largest private, nonprofit, independent research and development organization in the world. Even 90 years after its doors first opened, an enduring inscription carved in marble above the original building’s entrance reveals the driving force and unshakable foundation of this enterprise: “Original research is mankind’s most powerful weapon in solving the problems of nature.” Though much has changed at Battelle through the years, none of it would have been possible



Gordon Battelle bequeaths $1.5 million to create the Battelle Memorial Institute upon his death.

1923 4


Gordon Battelle unexpectedly passes away following a routine surgery to remove his appendix.

90 years of Innovation

without Gordon Battelle and his vision for the future. Born in 1883 in Covington, Kentucky, Gordon was the only child of John and Annie (Norton) Battelle. His father was a pioneer in the steel industry, managing companies that later became AK Steel and owning the Columbus Iron & Steel Co. His mother, a prominent suffragette and philanthropist, became the first woman to serve on the Columbus library’s Board of Trustees. Gordon was serious and quiet, his philosophy an interesting blend of his mother’s and father’s. He was known primarily as a business leader. While he would not

Annie Battelle, Gordon’s mother, leaves an additional $2.1 million to Battelle Memorial Institute.


Battelle officially opens, with 30 staff members.

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have claimed to be a prolific inventor, one discipline that did ignite his enthusiasm and curiosity was research. He studied metallurgy at Yale and returned to Columbus to work in his father’s steel mill, starting at the bottom to better understand how it all worked. He was fiercely independent and, in his own words, “did not want to be just a rich man’s son.” Russell Austin, the institute’s general counsel and unofficial historian, says Gordon Battelle had moderate tastes and habits and was well-liked and respected. “He grew up in a very successful family as an only child with a father who had a lot of business interests and a mother who was a person of note for the things she did,” Austin says. “He was very intent on making a difference and building on what his parents had created. He developed an interest in how science could solve problems.” After working in the family steel mill, Gordon set out on his own as an adult but returned to Columbus in 1918 to assume several industry leadership positions held by his father, who had died earlier that year. In 1920, Gordon drew up his will, leaving $1.5 million and directing six trustees to create the “Battelle Memorial Institute” upon his death. Sadly, these visionary instructions would be put into action three years later when Battelle unexpectedly died at the age of 40 while recovering from an appendectomy.


Battelle’s will emphasized metallurgy research, but also included language directing the institute to discover “new experiments and processes and license or dispose” of them in a way to advance the organization. The document also directed a portion of the profits go to “charitable institutions, needy enterprises or persons that will do the greatest good for humanity.” In 1925, Battelle’s mother, Annie, died and left an additional $2.1 million to further her son’s legacy. The total of $3.7 million—worth more than $55 million today—provided the means for a 60,000-square-foot building on 10 acres at 505 King Ave. in Columbus. More than two dozen eager scientists joined the fold 90 years ago, ready to embark on industrial research—a field with low, if any, demand at the time. Their investigations focused on issues involving iron, steel and a few other industrial products. “That came from Gordon’s will, because that was where the family business was,” Austin says. “We still do that type of work, but there is a much broader set of things we are responsible for now, consistent with the will.” Both Gordon’s and Annie’s wills distributed the money in 1927, with a majority of assets in steel stocks. The trustees decided the stocks were overpriced, so they sold them and bought government bonds just before the 1929 stock market crash. That exchange is cred-

Battelle makes advances in metals and material sciences through its work in the industrial sector.



The institute is awarded its first federal contract: developing armor plating for WWII tanks.

Building A façade circa late 1950s

ited with ensuring the viability and longevity of Battelle. “Trustees made important decisions back then in terms of who they hired, but this financial decision was probably the most important they ever made,” Austin says. “It could have been foresight—there’s not much documentation about this—but it helped the young organization withstand the Great Depression.” Battelle engineers and scientists quickly created a reputation for the institute as being proficient at problem-solving. But a key that sparked growth in the early 1930s was a pioneering method of how Battelle took on work. Patrons hired the organization for research under a costplus contract agreement, which

The institute develops fuel for the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational, nuclear-powered submarine.


Battelle purchases land in West Jefferson, Ohio, to build the first privately owned nuclear reactor.

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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Scientists in the 1960s study combustion in air-pollutant formation

then-director Clyde Williams foresaw as a way to provide a flow of money. He was right. The successes of these contracts also inspired Battelle researchers to generate their own ideas; many soon became national authorities in distinct specialties, while others branched out into unexplored research realms. These ventures positioned Battelle to become a leader in investigations on newer materials, leading to developments in atomic energy and high-performance jet engines. Battelle won its first of many government contracts in 1939 when the Army sought help to improve armor plating. Soon, with the start of World War II, the institute was awarded large volumes of high-

level research work, including support for the Manhattan Project—the program to develop the first atomic bomb. As many as 400 Battelle employees worked on the Manhattan Project, twice the number employed at the war’s beginning. The work led Battelle to eventually produce uranium fuel rods for the first full-scale nuclear reactor at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In the early 1950s, Battelle bought land for a research campus in West Jefferson, Ohio, and established the first privately owned nuclear reactor. The next key to Battelle’s growth was one of the most innovative products of the 20th century: photocopy machines. Chester Carlson, a New York patent attorney with a back-



Battelle plays a major role in developing the xerographic copy process.

1965 6


The institute wins a federal contract to manage the Pacific Northwest Laboratory.

Battelle helps develop the UPC (universal product code) symbol to speed up checkout at retail stores.

90 years of Innovation

ground in physics, was frustrated by the labor-intensive process of duplicating documents and began experiments to produce copies by creating a visible image using an electrostatic charge. He successfully reproduced an image in October 1938 but was unable to persuade any of the 20-plus companies he approached to help him perfect and market his invention. In 1944, Carlson mentioned it in passing to Russell Dayton, a Battelle engineer, during an unrelated patent meeting. Dayton recognized the potential value, and Carlson signed a contract with the Battelle Development Corp., a subsidiary that developed new inventions. As Battelle made significant improvements to Carlson’s invention, it brought in the Haloid Co., which made photographic and photocopy papers, to share research costs and to produce and market the product. “Xerography,” which means “dry writing” in Greek, was a name for the process suggested by an Ohio State University classical languages professor that would presage the company name to follow. Haloid introduced the first crude commercial copier in 1949; by 1955, the company had developed a completely automated xerographic machine. And, by 1959, Haloid Xerox had the first fast, low-cost, convenient copier on the market. Stock value in Haloid Xerox skyrocketed to about $8 billion and, under agreement, the company awarded $350 million in stock to Battelle—100 times


Battelle pioneers the method to record information on optical discs.

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Battelle by the Numbers

$7.5 billion in 2019 revenues

3,500 1,000

researchers on staff, with advanced degrees Operates from


major U.S. locations Manages


national laboratories


employees at national labs it manages


R&D 100 awards

$7 million invested annually in philanthropic causes


patents secured


papers authored or co-authored Impacts about


students annually with STEM initiatives


the institute’s original endowment. That windfall led to widespread growth and diversification for Battelle, making it the largest R&D organization of its kind in the world to explore emerging areas of science and develop technology for the commercial market. For instance, Battelle exported American science and technology when it opened European labs in Frankfurt, Germany, and Geneva, Switzerland, in the early 1950s. The institute has since conducted research projects in more than 90 countries. (See some of them on Pages 8-9.) In the mid-1960s, Battelle engineers helped in the development of the UPC barcode symbol, widely used in retail. In 1965, the institute won its first contract to manage a national lab, now known as the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Washington state. In 1974, a Battelle researcher at PNNL created a method to record digital information on compact optical discs. In the 1970s and 1980s Battelle’s fiber optics work led to 20 patents, and it formed an international fiber optics venture with Mitsubishi and NTT, sold later in 2000. After the Gulf War in 1991, Battelle became one of the few organizations to begin researching biodefense and biodetection technologies. The institute’s involvement in bioterrorism research began in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when it was tasked with studying anthrax mailed to several media

Battelle develops a revolutionary photovoltaic cell; it increases the cost-effectiveness of solar energy.


PIRI, an international fiber-optic venture, is formed by Battelle, Mitsubishi and NTT.

organizations and members of Congress. The work in all three areas—biodetection, defense and terrorism—continues for the U.S. departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services. In 2006, Battelle’s core mission to advance science was realized in a new endeavor— establishing a school with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Battelle co-founded Metro Early College High School, Ohio’s first STEM school, with Ohio State. It has since expanded this initiative to state and national school networks. This year marks Metro High School’s 10th graduating class. Today, Battelle is as formidable as ever. Its employees tackle and resolve some of society’s and industry’s most difficult challenges in the fields of national security, health, environment and infrastructure, and lab management. History extends proof that Battelle, overflowing with scientific and technological discoveries and accomplishments, has lived up to and exceeded the vision of its founder. Part of that success emerges from its vision and multidisciplinary approach, says Austin. “We bring in people from different disciplines to look at projects. We strike a balance of what we need to do right now and what may be relevant in the future,” Austin says. “We try to stay relevant to contemporary challenges. That is the long-term part of our mission.”


Operation Desert Storm uses technologies developed by Battelle.


Battelle and Stony Brook University team up to operate Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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Global Reach

Battelle’s reach in scientific research and development has spread worldwide. Here is a look at just a few of the international projects Battelle has had over the years.


Chelmsford, England Battelle’s formulation development, toxicology and biotechnology programs help the agricultural industry with product development and multinational, chemical formulation regulatory requirements.



Zika Virus

South America Battelle scientists provide expertise and capabilities to investigate and accelerate scientific discovery for infectious disease research.



Midwest Research Institute and Battelle join forces to manage the National Renewable Energy Lab.

1999 8

Battelle and University of Tennessee begin operating Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

90 years of Innovation


RareCyte, a cell isolation device, is developed at Battelle to help scientists study tumor cells.


Battelle Energy Alliance begins management and operations of the Idaho National Lab.

Photo: Bottom right, nechaev-kon

In Canada and other countries around the world, Battelle’s LS10 Liquid Bottle Scanner detects explosive components in liquids, making it possible for travelers and visitors to safely carry liquids, gels and aerosols through security checkpoints.

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Laboratory Training Georgia

Battelle worked closely with the U.S. and Georgian governments to establish the Lugar Center in Tbilisi, Georgia. Scientists there now are equipped to detect, diagnose and report pandemic, as well as potential bioterror threats.


Korean Peninsula

Armored Vehicles

Here and in other places around the world, Battelle’s Resource Effective Bioidentification System (REBS) detects and identifies biological and chemical contamination in the air, fluids or other materials within minutes from a single test sample.

Photo: Bottom left, Henrik5000

Middle East

Ebola Virus Africa

When Ebola outbreaks occur in Africa, Battelle employees participate on response teams from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Integrated Research Facility to train local responders.


Battelle produces lightweight armored and upgraded vehicles for American troops who require better operational performance and protection in challenging environments.

Battelle develops Verity, the structural stress method for predicting fatigue in welded structures.



Battelle is selected to manage the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center in Maryland.

Along with OSU, Battelle is a founding partner in Metro Early College High School.


Battelle joins the management team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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Using Philanthropy as an Investment in the Future Battelle’s mission has, for 90 years, been crystal clear: Science for the betterment of society. Its founder, Gordon Battelle, stitched that purpose into Battelle’s nonprofit charter, challenging generations of scientists, researchers and others who work in its labs to pursue work that improves society and to give back to the communities in which they live. Nowhere has that played out more effectively than at Metro Schools, where Battelle has invested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for school-aged kids. “We want to build schools that allow kids to explore and

discover their talents so they are inspired to contribute to the world,” says Aimee Kennedy, a former Metro Early College High School principal who now is Battelle’s senior vice president for education, STEM learning and philanthropy. “We want to take away the fear for kids that they are not good at math or science based on some inaccurate perception from early on in their education.” Metro HS started in 2006 with 93 freshmen, five fulltime teachers, one part-time teacher, one administrator and, Kennedy says, “a grand idea that we could do school differently for kids, regardless of what ZIP code they lived



The institute develops a soy-based printer toner containing up to 80 percent bio-based materials.

2012 10

in or how much money their parents made.” Since that first year, the idea has grown into a network of schools in Ohio and a sister system in Tennessee, both held up as national models for how to teach STEM subjects to children and how to get them excited about learning, whether pursuing careers in the sciences or in other disciplines. Metro in Columbus has grown to serve about 1,000 students— with a lofty goal to grow to 5,000 students by 2025 and plans for an elementary school focused on STEM education. “We are looking for an elementary school facility now,” Kennedy says. “It is an invest-


Battelle develops a liquids scanner for use in airport screenings worldwide.

Battelle develops a quantum key distribution commercial network that encrypts all traffic between an organization’s facilities using a photon-based technique.

90 years of Innovation

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ment that really is at the right intersection for us, of philanthropy and STEM and engaging the community where we live and work.” The Metro Schools model now serves as a jumping-off point for nonprofits and school systems throughout the country. “Battelle’s philanthropic mission has really turned into this body of research on STEM education across the United States,” says Wesley Hall, executive director of STEMx, Battelle’s multistate STEM network that provides ways to share, analyze and disseminate quality STEM education tools to teachers. “We really believe in STEM for all. That means we think students, regardless of geographic location or school or socioeconomic background, should have access to quality STEM learning opportunities—hands-on skills development, critical thinking and collaboration. Those bode well for the jobs of the future.” The original school in Columbus was the seed for


this broader network, which consists of schools in 16 states and territories, including Arkansas, California, Idaho and the Virgin Islands. And the Columbus Metro Schools have been growing. That first Metro Early College High School paved the way for Metro Early College Middle School and the Metro Institute of Technology, a five-year program that allows students to earn both a high school degree and an associate or technical degree. Battelle’s goal is to reach 1 million students by 2025. “We invest in ourselves, in our technology, and in our employees and their talented minds to develop the next generation of innovative scientists and researchers—and we think STEM education is the sweet spot,” Kennedy says. “It’s where we can impact the lives of students so they are equipped and ready to be leaders in our community tomorrow.”

Building on its WWII history, Battelle deploys armored commercial vehicles.



HeatCoat, a nonmetallic, nano-thin aircraft anti-icing system, is developed by Battelle.

Battelle in the Community Battelle’s philanthropic reach extends far beyond the classroom. The institute awards about $7 million in grants each year to nonprofits in the communities where its employees live and work, both in Columbus and throughout the U.S. Additionally, the institute matches 100 percent of employees’ donations of $25 or more to nonprofits of their choice. In Central Ohio, Battelle supports dozens of local organizations ranging from Community Shelter Board to COSI, the Columbus Museum of Art and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, the Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Battelle Environmental Science Center at KIPP Columbus and the Battelle Center for Science, Engineering and Public Policy at OSU’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs are all so named because of gifts from Battelle. “It is our absolute mission to engage philanthropically in our community and in the communities where we live and work,” says Aimee Kennedy, Battelle’s senior vice president for education, STEM learning and philanthropy. “We believe wholeheartedly that contributing to helping our neighbors live the best lives they can—that is absolutely why we are here, why we do the work we do scientifically and why we make investments in the nonprofit organizations in our communities.”

Battelle develops AirAlert, a lightweight chemical detector that can monitor airborne compounds.


Battelle’s DeviceSecure services identify and resolve potential cybersecurity threats to medical devices.

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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Battelle’s Solvers

Battelle employees are called Solvers for the innovative solutions they

provide in cracking some of the world’s greatest challenges. These individuals represent the thousands of Battelle Solvers whose technical and professional backgrounds are as diverse as the work they perform.

Tony Duong Tony Duong uses his engineering expertise to save lives. He has built devices to better deliver insulin to diabetic people. He helped create a more effective wound dressing for injured soldiers. And he is working on making specialized cancer treatments more accessible. “There’s a culture of innovation at Battelle,” Duong says. “We have a lot of opportunities to pursue ideas freely, and we have a very collaborative organization.” That innovation—and Battelle’s commitment to making the world a better place—keeps Duong inspired. “It’s rewarding to know that not only do I get to innovate and create some cool stuff,” he says, “but the fruits of that innovation are also going to be reinvested in science, either here or through Battelle’s philanthropic investments.”

Steve Huckaby There was a day when Steve Huckaby’s scientific life collided with his personal one: He walked into the hospital room where his father lay after suffering a debilitating stroke and saw that the enteral feeding pump keeping his father alive was one he helped develop at Battelle. “That’s really what inspires me to do this work at Battelle, to be a part of this group and work with the teams that I do,” he says. “It’s because the work I do individually and as a team—we have this positive impact on people’s health outcomes. We have a poster at work that says, ‘What you do matters,’ and I really believe that it does.”

Amy Heintz For Amy Heintz, applied science is about blending scientific fundamentals and creativity to solve problems. “Making positive motion toward a solution drives me to learn more,” she says. “It keeps me energized.” She is the first-ever Technical Fellow at Battelle, as well as a Distinguished Inventor (those with 14 patents or more) and the 2016 Inventor of the Year. Heintz has worked on aircraft anti-icing systems, next-gen solar cells and drug delivery devices, as well as fun endeavors like creating a better beverage container to allow nitrogenated beers to taste their best when poured. Battelle, she says, is uniquely situated to develop new technologies. “As a nonprofit company, we can take a slightly longer view and get involved in technology development that might take time or have a little more risk,” she says. “The ability to continuously learn and grow creates an environment of excitement and passion. When we put our focus and attention on it, we can do anything.”



The institute develops a Smart Corrosion Detector bead, which contains both detection and self-healing chemicals to protect valuable equipment.

2015 12

Battelle develops DroneDefender to protect airspace against unmanned aircraft systems.

90 years of Innovation


Battelle’s WayFinder software improves patient care and outcomes.

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Steve Risser Steve Risser’s 30-year career at Battelle has resulted in more than 26 U.S. patents, but for Battelle’s 2017 Inventor of the Year, it’s been the ability to conduct differentiating science that’s driven him. “There is the idea that we are not just doing whatever will make money—we are trying to make an impact,” Risser says. “You are just

trying to use your gifts to make the world a better place.” For Risser, that has meant developing materials that can help protect American soldiers or give cataract patients better sight. “Often, clients come to us after they have already tried to solve the problem and failed,” he says. “So we get these really incredible challenges— and we get to solve them.”

Shannon Snellings Many say they want to save the planet; Shannon Snellings actually is doing it. As a senior chemist at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant in Colorado, Snellings is part of a team that destroys toxic mustard munitions stockpiled by the U.S. military since the 1940s. “We are literally making the world a safer place by destroying those munitions,”

she says. “And we are helping the United States stay compliant with the Chemical Weapons Convention.” Snellings adds that her Battelle team also takes great pride in supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational efforts in their community through volunteering and scholarships. “It’s a privilege to do this work,” she says.

Sara Florkey For 14 years, Sara Florkey supported the researchers who keep members of the military safe from hazardous materials through her work at Battelle’s Hazardous Materials Research Center. Now, she’s taking her expertise a step further by helping Battelle enhance its culture and invest in STEM education for the next generation of scientific leaders.

2017 2016

The Battelle Environmental Center opens at KIPP Columbus.

Battelle’s ExactID, the first commercial next-gen software for forensic DNA sequencing, is deployed.


Florkey, a lifelong science fiction fan, has spent her career amazed by Battelle’s ability to find answers to the seemingly impossible. “The advances we are generating make me wonder if maybe we aren’t that far from a future we only dreamed about or imagined between the pages of a book,” she says. “What we can do with the collective brainpower here at Battelle is boundless.”

Battelle and its Triad National Security partners assume management and operations of Los Alamos National Lab.

Battelle deploys the ThreatSEQ web service to safeguard the DNA synthesis industry.


August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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National Lab Management

A Network of National Laboratories Operated with Distinction Most people know Battelle as a research and development organization responsible for numerous inventions. But many may not realize that it plays another important function that helps the nation: having a management role at national laboratories across the United States. “We’re one of the few companies in the nation that manages national labs as a core competency,” explains Ron Townsend, executive vice president of Battelle’s global laboratory operations. “And national labs solve some of our nation’s greatest challenges in national security, energy and science.” Battelle began its laboratory management role in 1965 when


the U.S. government asked it to manage Pacific Northwest Laboratory (its name was changed to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 1995), established to apply research and development to make the world safer and more secure. Battelle was chosen because it had been involved in the Manhattan Project, which produced the first nuclear weapons, and the new lab would leverage Battelle’s expertise into new and exciting technology advances, Townsend says. (See “Battelle in the Pacific Northwest,” next page, for more on this relationship.) The work fit right into Battelle’s mission of translating scientific and technology advances into societal benefit.

90 years of Innovation

Thirty years later, with plenty of experience under its belt, Battelle’s leadership decided to compete for more United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory contracts. In 2019, Battelle has a management role at seven of them, plus another for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). There are 17 DOE national labs tasked with tackling critical scientific challenges. “When you look at the breadth and scope of the national labs where we have a significant management role, we are responsible for the annual execution of $7 billion in federal research funding that involves more than 28,000 lab employees,” Townsend says.

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He says Battelle’s lab management approach centers on “simultaneous excellence” managing the science and technology with distinction at the laboratories while also safely operating complex, hazardous facilities and being good neighbors in each lab’s community. “That combination has allowed us to achieve tremendous success,” Townsend says. Battelle also manages the DHS National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, which analyzes evidence from biocrime or terrorist attacks and provides scientific data for law enforcement investigations. The lab also conducts research on current and future biological threats. The labs work collaboratively with U.S. universities, something that Battelle naturally encour-

ages because of its emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, Townsend says. Battelle, for example, partnered with Texas A&M University and the University of California to form Triad National Security LLC to manage Los Alamos National Lab because of the universities’ research in key areas aligned with the laboratory, Townsend explains. Similarly, Battelle and the University of Tennessee jointly manage Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in part because UT’s research priorities align with the lab’s. “The relationships benefit everyone. Universities bring innovative research ideas and students who can work in the labs, and the labs provide research opportunities, jobs for graduates and the prestige of

working with a national laboratory,” Townsend says. Battelle’s research and development, as well as Columbus as a city, also benefit from Battelle’s work with national laboratories. “We have access to a remarkable talent pool at the labs, and we get insights into emerging technologies and advancements,” Townsend says. “It strengthens Battelle as a corporation and puts Columbus dead center in the strong relationship we have with the Department of Energy.”

Battelle in the Pacific Northwest For 54 years, Battelle has managed the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a facility in Richland, Washington, that researches “the toughest problems that industry can’t handle,” says director Steven Ashby. The lab, which handles $1 billion worth of federal research each year, defines its strengths in three areas: chemistry, data analytics and earth sciences, he says. Those lay the foundation for work on energy resiliency, climate science and national security, including the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. More than 4,400 scientists, engineers and support professionals work at PNNL, and they’ve licensed 2,700 U.S. and foreign patents over the years. Numerous inventions have come out of the laboratory, Ashby says, including the safer, more private fullbody scanner used in airport security and sensitive radiation detectors used to monitor nuclear treaties and nuclear reactor meltdowns. Battelle’s involvement as the longtime lab manager has been a benefit in many ways, Ashby says. “We have a reputation for excellence, and people know we’re here to provide the best technical assistance we can,” he says. “They know us for the quality of our science, our operations and the quality of our community engagement.”

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


National Lab Management

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Idaho National Laboratory Idaho Falls, ID

The nation’s leading laboratory for nuclear energy research is charged with providing the nation with energy security. Its Advanced Test Reactor is the world’s premier nuclear test reactor.

Richland, WA

With strengths in chemistry, earth sciences and data analytics, this lab aims to improve the country’s energy resiliency and improve its national security. Key projects include modernizing the U.S. electric power grid and preventing nuclear smuggling.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Livermore, CA

Aims to enhance the nation’s defense and reduce the global threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. It recently opened the Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory to create new materials and technologies alongside academia and the private sector.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos, NM The newest lab in Battelle’s portfolio has research centers focused on nuclear and energy security, intelligence, defense, emergency response, nuclear weapons nonproliferation, counterterrorism, emerging threats and environmental management.


90 years of Innovation

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Brookhaven National Laboratory National Renewable Energy Laboratory Golden, CO

Concentrates on researching energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and renewable power. The lab’s National Wind Technology Center is the nation’s premier wind energy, water power and power grid integration research facility.

Upton, NY

Advances fundamental research in nuclear and particle physics, energy, materials science and the Earth’s ecosystems. The National Synchrotron Light Source II is the world’s brightest. Current research includes development of better performing batteries for electric vehicles.


Columbus, OH

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, TN

Solves energy and security problems by focusing on neutrons, computing, materials and nuclear research. It has the world’s most powerful opensource computer and is building a supercomputer that will be the world’s most powerful.

National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center Fort Detrick, MD

The Department of Homeland Security’s first national lab is dedicated to defending the nation against biological threats by supporting intelligence assessments, preparedness planning, response, emerging threat characterization and bioforensic analyses.

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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Battelle in your Daily Life

Iron Byron

Pervasive Impact Science can sometimes seem far removed from our daily lives. Chemistry experiments and physics theories might feel more suited to a high school classroom than day-to-day living. But the science conducted in Battelle’s laboratories has influenced everything from the bar codes on the bottom of your cereal boxes to the anti-dandruff ingredients in Selsun Blue shampoo to the full body scanners used in airports across the country and around the world. “If you’ve ever stepped into a full-body scanner or had your belongings scanned at the airport, we’ve probably had our hands on that technology,” says Donald LaMonaca, a business manager at Battelle who oversees the institute’s airport


security programs. “We are involved in the development of it, the testing of it, all the way through to the integration of that equipment in the airport.” Battelle’s connection to airport security began decades ago, when the institute recognized that its understanding of explosives could be useful for airport and traveler safety. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Battelle had built a name for itself in the detection and interrogation of explosives and mitigation of their effects. According to LaMonaca, Battelle saw that it could apply this expertise to play a role in keeping people safe. “We could figure out how to defend against explosive threats,” he explains. “And

90 years of Innovation

to help build new systems to detect explosives before they go off and minimize collateral damage if they do.” Fast-forward to 2019: On any given day, Battelle has approximately 50 people in airports around the United States, integrating and testing security scanners and making sure they are operating properly. Most of that work happens in the wee hours of the morning—3, 4, 5 a.m., before most travelers are starting their days. But airports aren’t the only places Battelle’s scientific expertise is on public display. Since its opening in 1929, Battelle has been responsible for thousands of patents, from the corrosion-resistant metal created for watch springs (and

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Photo: Right, bluestocking

later used in mechanical heart valves) to the creation of better materials for paint brushes to the invention of childproof caps for medications. The coins you plunk into a vending machine for a midafternoon snack? Developed by Battelle; the institute came up with the idea of sandwiching layers of nickel alloys and copper to make a better, cheaper form of currency. The sticky adhesive on the back of a postage stamp? Invented by Battelle. Battelle also developed a crucial piece of software called Verity that employs a novel technique to predict when the

welded joints in a metal structure or piece of equipment will fail. The software has been applied successfully on oil and gas pipelines, automobiles and cargo ships that travel across oceans. The director of innovation at Caterpillar Inc., a company that builds massive construction machines, likened the impact of Battelle’s software on engineering to the mapping of the human genome in the scientific world. Battelle also has helped the U.S. military, creating armored vehicles that protect soldiers and developing a helicopter system that can detect munitions buried in the ground. But Battelle’s influence also touches your recreational world: The institute invented a new cover for golf balls that made them resistant to chipping. “Before our technology, if you mis-hit the ball, you’d basically ruin it, because you would leave this U-shaped cut on the ball—golfers called it a smile—and you could never play with it again. You hit the ball wrong and there goes your $4 golf ball,” says T.R. Massey, a spokesman for Battelle. Battelle also has worked on designs for major golf club manufacturers, developing high-tech heads and shafts, and created a machine that was used by the United States Golf Association and major golf-equipment companies for 40 years to test golf club shafts and ball flights. That machine, “Iron Byron,” (pictured on Page 18) was tested on the driving ranges at Scioto Country Club and The Ohio State University. “If you play golf, Battelle definitely has had a big impact on the clubs and the balls that you play with,” Massey says. Massey elaborates, “Our motto is, ‘It Can Be Done.’ One could argue that Battelle’s science is everywhere.”

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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The Road Ahead: Four Pillars of Research Battelle’s work covers a broad spectrum of scientific pursuits in various fields, from national security to medicine and public health, energy and the environment. The following four stories highlight a set of business programs of critical value to the nation: microelectronics trust and assurance, remediation of a chemical class of compounds known as PFAS, neuroscience, and large infrastructure management for programs like the National Ecological Observatory Network. These are just a few of the many future technologies being developed today at Battelle; read on for summaries of each.

1. Tiny Components; Big Consequences Microelectronics—the chips, circuits and other embedded components that go into electronic devices—may well be the new stealth weapons of choice for hackers and adversary nations. These nefarious parties can steal information or disrupt government and corporate operations by introducing compromised microelectronic components into the supply chain for electronic systems. Battelle is actively helping to disrupt attacks by ensuring malicious or faulty microelectronic devices and systems are ejected or blocked from the computer hardware that controls U.S. defense systems, infrastructure and other critical operating systems. Government demand drives much of Battelle’s work; Wren Sigrest, Battelle’s cyber business line manager, says the


focus on microelectronics is about one-third of his unit’s efforts—and growing. “Much of our work grew out of our core efforts on vulnerability research, mostly from embedded and software systems,” Sigrest says. The complexity of modern integrated circuits (more than 1 billion devices on a single chip) make designing bug-free hardware increasingly challenging, and the tiny scale of modern devices makes it easy to hide malicious behavior. “Previously, the hardware was thought to be un-hackable because it is hardware, but that is no longer believed to be true,” Sigrest says. With good reason. In 2018, news stories alleged a secret Chinese military unit compromised computer hardware used by Apple, a bank and various government contractors.

90 years of Innovation

Although that specific story was widely refuted, it was a watershed moment in the security research community, promoting intense interest in nondestructive techniques for verifying complex electronic systems. This potential to infect computer systems is immense, because a majority of semiconductors and hardware components are built in Asia by third-party developers that can be compromised. And the main problem is in China, says Sigrest. “Major semiconductor manufacturing companies and near peer nation states are locating state-of-the-art foundries offshore,” he says. “These are places where you have no control over the supply chain, and these chips are going into consumer devices, critical infrastructure and government systems.” Like its research in other fields, Battelle uses a multidisciplinary approach to tackle risk at every level in these complex systems, including in computer chips, printed circuit boards, embedded firmware and the integrated system overall. “This is a game-changer. Most people think hardware is the root of trust in software, but the reality is that unless we can verify the physical silicon, that hardware root carries a residual risk of exploitation,” Sigrest says. “Our overarching goal is to be able to provide the U.S. government and other customers with a costeffective means for 100 percent verification of all microelectronics going into their systems.”

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Photo: courtesy Getty Images

2. Addressing Hidden Environmental Dangers A ubiquitous class of chemicals that can be detected in the blood of 98 percent of the nation’s population now is beginning to breach the surface of the public’s awareness. For Battelle, however, the topic is not new and is currently a major focal point because of its potential impact on the environment and human health. Known as “forever chemicals” comprising more than 4,700 synthetic compounds—per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS for short—have been manufactured since the 1940s and used widely since the 1950s because of their ability to repel oil and water, among other things. They are, or have been, used in Teflon nonstick products; the lining of pizza boxes and fast food packages; in cleaning products and carpet stain repellant; in the foam used to extinguish fuel-based fires; and as a water repellant for outdoor gear. In the early 2000s, researchers realized the chemicals—bonded together by fluorine and carbon, which prevents deterioration— were seeping into the environment, particularly water. Once the chemicals leach into water, they can travel far and are found in plants, animals and humans. The U.S. Environmental Working Group estimates there are 610 U.S. locations containing PFAS in 43 states, impacting as many as 19 million Americans. At high enough levels, PFAS may increase risks for cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, obesity, high cholesterol and hormone suppression. Research into its effects is ongoing. PFAS has been on Battelle’s radar since 2010, when researchers started working with the U.S. Department of Defense at a contaminated site in Pennsylvania, says Amy

Dindal, Battelle’s PFAS program manager. Battelle is researching numerous techniques to sample PFAS compounds, improve analysis and create a promising new forensic technique called fingerprinting to develop a library to distinguish between sources of PFAS compounds, she says. “We’ve been working primarily with the federal government doing research. We’re working in the areas of toxicology and human health effects, as well as doing environmental measurements and characterizations of sites,” Dindal

says. “We also invest a lot of our own resources, which is consistent with our mission to make investments in scientific discovery for societal benefit.” Battelle also is working to develop techniques to destroy the chemicals at contaminated sites, but that’s no simple task. “Because of the primary backbone of these chemicals, it’s hard to get rid of them,” Dindal says. “But until it is controlled in the whole environment, it is just going to keep turning up; treating it at the water tap is just putting a bandage on the problem.”

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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3. NeuroLife: Reconnecting the Brain to the Body

There are millions of people in the United States who have some sort of paralysis, and the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center indicates that 17,500 new spinal cord injuries occur each year. For some, Battelle’s NeuroLife Neural Bypass Technology system offers new hope to someday help patients regain movement. For the past five years, Battelle scientists and doctors from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have had phenomenal success in helping a quadriplegic man regain control of muscle movements in his hand and arm through this innovative braincomputer interface. After a diving accident left Ian Burkhart paralyzed in 2010, he searched for something more than the standard treatment. During his rehab at Wexner Medical Center, he learned of Battelle’s NeuroLife project. In 2014 he volunteered to participate in a research study that ultimately


saw a surgeon implant a tiny microchip into his brain. That chip is connected to a system of complex computers and software developed by Battelle scientists and engineers. After Burkhart’s brain signals are decoded in the system using artificial intelligence and unique algorithms, they are sent to a proprietary Battelle electrostimulation sleeve that is worn on his forearm. The result: Burkhart’s thoughts bypass his injured spinal cord and are translated into hand movements in less than a second. Within a month, Burkhart went from a simple wrist extension to being able to close and open his hand. With a little more practice, he could hold a cup and pick up silverware. Since then, Burkhart’s progress has amazed everyone, says Herb Bresler, a Battelle senior research leader. “He’s accomplished great things, way beyond what we thought possible,” says Bresler. “Now we are taking additional

90 years of Innovation

steps to make the system faster, portable and more user-friendly.” When the study concluded in May 2019, Burkhart could drink from a cup, play a guitar video game and drive a simulator car in real time just by thinking. What originally was a tablesized array of electronics has been whittled to the size of a brick. Tackling difficult and challenging tasks like this is typical for Battelle, Bresler says. “We keep an eye on future trends and try to make sure we are prepared to work in the high-tech areas of the future. Back in 2012, we saw the neurotechnology market growing, and started this project,” he says. “We choose to solve difficult, real-world problems.” NeuroLife’s original intent was not to create marketable products, but success and revelations have opened unexpected doors. Battelle is embarking on new neurotechnology opportunities, and the system’s development could lead to a therapeutic tool to help people who have suffered a stroke regain movement. Additionally, the U.S. government recently awarded a contract for Battelle to work on a next-generation, non-invasive brain-computer interface that would allow healthy soldiers to control vehicles such as drones with their thoughts. Another potential opportunity lies in the development of bio-electronic medicine that replaces drugs with electric stimulation to treat ailments. “Neurotechnology has been around for a very long time, but there’s also much that’s new in this constantly evolving field,” Bresler says. “We are delighted with what we’ve accomplished so far, and we are going to continue to innovate to address today’s challenges with hope that will lead to future solutions.”

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4. Taking Measure for Our Future Earth is on the verge of hosting 8 billion people. To better understand some of the links between climate, the environment and the population, researchers at Battelle are collecting 5.2 billion readings of data every day from 81 field sites across the country. This immense amount of data will provide material on a scale not previously available to ecologists in a unique endeavor aimed at establishing a baseline measurement and conducting a holistic investigation of North American ecology. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the sole funder of this half-billion dollar, 30-year program dubbed NEON—the National Ecological Observatory Network. The NSF selected Battelle to manage the program, which includes strategically chosen, regional field sites in the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. NEON is designed to better understand the risks, vulnerabilities and impacts of rapidly changing ecological processes across the country and offer the data to other researchers around the globe. Complex sensors and human observers at NEON sites characterize soil, nutrients, fresh water, plants, animals and the atmosphere. “All instrument measurements, human observations and laboratory analysis from NEON go to Boulder, Colorado, for processing. The program is designed to enable researchers to better understand the drivers and responses to environmental changes,” says Michael Kuhlman, Battelle’s chief scientist of contract research. “NEON provides high-quality, standardized data, so academic researchers worldwide can perform the work that needs to be done,” Kuhlman adds. “One of the things we are very good

at is enabling others to undertake research projects, and this is part of the overall approach to research infrastructure that Battelle is supporting.” All data obtained through NEON is open-source and available for free download by anyone with an internet connection. Ultimately, the goal of the project is to acquire data to allow scientists, planners, government officials and the public to understand and predict how human activity impacts ecological parameters. That will, in turn, inform policies to

provide long-term food and water security for the U.S. in a changing environment. “This is different in scale from any prior ecological network. Most ecology work is done by small teams or individuals at one location, or perhaps a few sites, but NEON is continental and will span decades,” according to Kuhlman. “Tackling this project expands Battelle’s skills with a whole new suite in ecology,” he says. “We had expertise in specific technologies, but this is on a vastly larger scale than we’ve engaged before.”

August 2019 Columbus Monthly


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Profile for The Columbus Dispatch

Special Section: 90 Years Solving  

This special section gives an insider’s look at Battelle’s 90-year history in Columbus and beyond.

Special Section: 90 Years Solving  

This special section gives an insider’s look at Battelle’s 90-year history in Columbus and beyond.