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University of Wyoming

Wyoming Award Winners

Success Stories: Consolidated Engineers & Materials Testing, Inc.

James P. Murphy
James P. Murphy

Consolidated Engineers & Materials Testing, Inc. (CE&MT) is a geotechnical and engineering firm located in Gillette, Wyoming. It was founded in 1987 and currently employs 22 people. The firm provides geotechnical engineering and construction materials testing and inspection services throughout Wyoming and the surrounding region. CE&MT operates a nationally accredited materials testing laboratory coupled with for mobile laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art construction materials testing equipment. The laboratories provide testing of soils, aggregates, Portland cement concrete, asphlatic concrete, and structural steel. In addition, CE&MT designs construction materials such as Portland cement concrete mixes and asphlatic concrete pavements.

CE&MT had worked with a graduate student of the University of Wyoming and after learning about the potential for small businesses to obtain grants for research by attending a SBIR conference in Casper Wyoming, wanted to advance the research the graduate student had started. The project involved the disposal of bottom ash, a waste product of coal combustion in coal-fired power plants. Bottom ash is not considered a hazardous substance by the EPA but various states regulate the disposal differently. In Wyoming, the bottom ash disposal is regulated making it a liability to the power generation companies.

Jim Murphy, President of CE&MT, Jeff Robinson, CE&MT Marketing Manager, and Dr. Khaled Ksaibati, UW Civil Engineer Professor, teamed up to prepare a SBIR Phase I proposal for the United States Department of Agriculture. On March 17, 1999 CE&MT was informed that their proposal had been recommended for funding.

Their work began by sampling and testing bottom ash from five power plants in Wyoming: Wyodak, Jim Bridger, Naughton, Dave Johnston, and Laramie River. The power companies offered outstanding support for the research program and the sampling resulted in excellent consistencies from four out of the five power plants. Preliminary results are very encouraging as to the overall development of practical applications for bottom ash in asphaltic concrete.

Comments by Jim Murphy, CE&MT President:

"The overall experience with the SBIR program has been absolutely positive. The grant enabled CE&MT to develop in areas otherwise left untapped. The challenges offered by the research program have provided opportunities for CE&MT employees that they have never before experienced. This helps keep their outlook fresh and engaging. We look forward to advancing our research through a Phase II Grant. The Phase II Grant will afford us the opportunity to test the product in a ‘real world’ application. Ultimately, we seek to limit the liability incurred by the power generation plants in producing and disposing of bottom ash. Furthermore, the incorporation of bottom ash into asphaltic concrete mixtures may improve the overall performance characteristics of the pavements. This win-win scenario remains the ultimate goal. I would strongly encourage anyone with an idea for unique development to investigate the SBIR Program. The program is an excellent means to enhance technology and small business endeavors. I could not be more pleased with the success my firm has enjoyed with our Phase I award."

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