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Nanotechnology Partnerships, Connections Spur Innovation for Fluid Control Industries

Bellingham, WA (PRWEB via PR Web Direct ) June 9, 2005 –- Microstaq founders Steve Booth and Jeff Chance knew a lot about automotive systems and little about microtechnology when they set out eight years ago to create a new business making a better flow control valve. Having worked in business development and sales for a large automotive company, the two were in a position to improve on the manufacturing of traditional mechanical valves that run various automotive flow control systems and they knew how to sell it.

They were seeking a manufacturer for their valve when they met Bob Mehalso, an internationally recognized expert in nanotechnology and microsystems. Mehalso is a consultant in micro-electro-mechanical systems, or MEMS technology, and a man with many contacts in the micro-manufacturing industry. His innovative approaches to commercializing nanosystems have lead to products such as ink-jet print heads and fuel-injection nozzles.

Mehalso had just one word for Booth and Chance: silicon.

Why not replace the car's bulky, seventeen-part mechanical valve with a radically smaller single silicon chip capable of controlling the same fluids?

Through Mehalso's contacts Booth and Chance inked a commercial agreement with the inventor of a silicon microvalve technology designed for harsh environment flow control systems. Today, Microstaq's employees include both silicon and flow control experts who are working together to bring MEMS technology to the automotive world of flow control. Microstaq's tiny silicon chip, whose production is expected to get under way in late 2006, promises to revolutionize the fluid control industry as the transistor did in the electronics world.

The miniature silicon wafer promises to control the flow of liquids, mists and gases in air-conditioning, transmission, braking and other automotive systems operating at high pressures and high flows. Its lighter weight and smaller size, coupled with its resistive, linear flow control characteristics, have the potential to contribute to vehicle fuel economy and to reduce power consumption in every car, truck and SUV that uses it.

Booth and Chance believe their patented microtechnology has broad application potential that could result in a number of business and technical partnerships across multiple industries. For instance, the microvalve technology has great potential for the miniaturization of flow control in biomedical, refrigeration, aerospace and aeronautics. Its portability, low cost, accuracy and small fluid volume requirements also make it ideal for point-of-use chemical mixing and for active cooling of complex, heat generating electronic systems such as modern microprocessors.

The company's silicon chip-based flow control technology leverages proven silicon wafer processing techniques to create a single-structure, ‘solid state' valve capable of controlling a range of fluids in today's high-pressure, high-flow rate control environments without the traditional membrane or orifice-type microvalve designs. The chip's cost, size, weight, durability, performance and component integration capability offer strong benefits for auto manufacturers and automotive systems suppliers.

“In a demanding world marketplace, product miniaturization matters,” Booth said. “Business partnerships are also important, and Microstaq recognizes the benefits of partnering with people and organizations to efficiently develop and market this valve technology in promising business sectors.”

Microstaq's valve technology has so much business potential that the company received a $2 million federal award in 2001 from the U.S Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program to complete the development of its unique microvalve. Microstaq has also obtained several research grant awards from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

In 2004 the company received over $2 million in venture capital funding.

About Microstaq:
Microstaq ( www.microstaq.com ) is a privately held company founded in 2000 to bring MEMS technology to the flow control world of automotive systems. Microstaq designs, develops and manufactures high-performance MEMS silicon valve systems capable of operating in normal to extreme flow control environments.

Co-founders Steve Booth and Jeff Chance were business development and sales managers in the automotive air-conditioning and engine cooling industry before founding the company to address flow control opportunities in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industries. Formerly known as Alumina Micro, the company moved to Bellingham in 2002.

Microstaq recognizes the benefits of business partnerships to efficiently market its valve technology and seeks partnerships that will successfully market its flow control technology into promising business sectors.

Contact:
Jeff Chance
Executive Vice President
360-734-8220 x102
www.microstaq.com


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This story has been adapted from a news release -
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