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Panhandle Spirit: Buffalo Technology Group

Members of the Buffalo Technology Group, grad student Trent Kelly, Dr. Emily Hunt, and grad student Brenton Allen discuss their latest project. (ABC7 Amarillo-David Bradley)

Kids often take off for college with dreams of learning something that will help them change the world. It’s really happening for some grad students at West Texas A&M University, working under the guidance of Dr. Emily Hunt in the Buffalo Technology Group.

They’ve spent long hours in the lab, testing, experimenting, researching, and ultimately creating a substance that prevents bacterial growth. This process started with a Defense Department project to battle biological weapons, and developed into something we all can use.

”People might not be worried about anthrax at home, but they are worried about mold and mildew and all types of different bacteria that spread throughout your home,” said Dr. Hunt.

As they explored that idea, they discovered another problem that impacts heavy industry called MIC, which stands for microbiologically influenced corrosion. Unlike rust, which is a result of a chemical reaction, MIC is caused by bacteria eating through metal.

So, they invented MIC Guard, which is a powder that can be applied to the coating of exposed metal on offshore oil and gas platforms. The Navy is even using it on some of their aircraft. That success led to the creation of Paint Guard, which grad student Brenton Allen says is easily mixed with indoor paint, either at the store while it’s being tinted, or at home.

“Once you paint a wall with our product, then that will will resist the growth of mildew or mold,” said Allen.

Grad student Trent Kelly said it was quite a challenge for them to break out of their comfort zone as scientists and focus on product development, marketing, and sales.

“With our background and our desire to make products that are useful to people, we came to a point where we had to stop and say how can we get this product into the consumers’ hands,” Kelly said.

“We’ve come from just being research engineers, and developing material in the laboratory, and now, we’re learning about sales and marketing and writing business plans. It’s really been an incredible experience,” said Hunt.

They recently got a boost from W.T.’s Enterprise Challenge, where the Buffalo Technology group earned a $100,000 loan to invest in the business. Allen, who’s born and bred here, says seeing this dream develop into reality at his hometown school is a great example of the Panhandle Spirit.

”We’ve got a lot of innovative minds here that are taking on some very challenging problems in a plethora of industries, so i’m excited to be a part of that, and really excited to see where Buffalo Technology Group goes in the future.”

Among the other ideas they’re exploring now are a grout-guard that you can be used on tile, and incorporating the powder into construction materials, such as drywall, insulation backing, and wallpaper glue, so the future looks quite bright.



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