WMU News

WMU and Altair share $1 million federal nanotech grant

March 18, 2003

RENO, Nev. -- Nevada's Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. and Western Michigan University will share $1 million in federal funding for joint research aimed at the development of nanosensors to detect chemical and biological weapons and an agent that can be used for the breakdown and concentration of radioactive nuclides.

The approximately $1 million grant, for which WMU applied, was approved through President Bush's recent signing of the fiscal 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill and should be available by the end of April. Altair and WMU will utilize the funds equally, according to WMU's Dr. Subra Muralidharan, associate professor of chemistry and director of the University's Nanotechnology Research and Computation Center. WMU and Altair also are pursuing additional grants worth $1 million or more per year.

"The monies will fund two related programs," says Altair President Dr. Rudi E. Moerck. "Nanosensor development for the detection of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons should have significant use for national defense applications and homeland security programs, while the remediation agent uniquely addresses the on-site reduction of radioactive waste."

Moerck says his company's partnering agreement with WMU, "presents an ideal venue to showcase our proprietary nanomaterial technologies." In addition to partnering with WMU, Altair plans to work with the University of Nevada, Reno, for testing and analysis assistance as part of the development program.

"This research will make Nevada, and America, a better place to live," says Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. "Nanotechnology will help protect and preserve our environment, and will give us cutting-edge tools to fight terrorism and improve homeland security. I'm proud that a Nevada company is leading the world in developing this vital technology, and I look forward to working with Altair in the future as well."

It's important to note, Muralidharan points out, that Altair is one of a few companies with the technology and capacity to economically manufacture large quantities of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Such capacity will enhance development of nanosensors for detecting chemical and biological weapons and other sophisticated civilian applications.

"We evaluated potential research program partners stringently, as our success depends on their capabilities," Muralidharan says. "Altair's proprietary titanium dioxide nanoparticles exhibited the ability to maintain their integrity in extreme environments. We believe these nanoparticles, when melded with our technology, will allow the creation of nanosensors which, when dispersed on military vehicles or military and security uniforms, could quickly sense the presence of warfare agents and instantaneously alert a control center.

"These same titanium dioxide nanoparticles can be formed in large-surface delivery systems and conjugated with our proprietary molecules," Muralidharan says. The molecules will be used to concentrate radioactive nuclides in nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste on site, reducing the volume of such waste.

With nanotechnology rapidly emerging as a unique industry sector, Altair Nanotechnologies is positioning itself through product innovation to become a leading supplier of nanomaterial technology and nanomaterials worldwide. Altair owns a proprietary technology for making nanocrystalline materials of unique quality both economically and in large quantities. The company is currently developing special nanomaterials with potential applications in pharmaceuticals, batteries, fuel cells, solar cells, advanced energy storage devices, thermal spray coatings, catalysts, cosmetics, paints and environmental remediation. Additional information on Altair and its nanoparticle materials is available at the company's Web site, <www.altairnano.com>. More information about the research and Altair from Marty Tullio, Managing Partner Investor Relation Resources, at (949) 566-9860 and Tracy LaFollete of Altair at (307) 587-8245.

WMU's Muralidharan can be reached at (269) 387-3656.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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