Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. of Hilliard, Ohio, is conducting quality tests on corrugated drainage piping made from a polyethylene compound developed by the National Autonomous University of Mexico's Institute of Materials Research.
The exercise will be the culmination of a 13-year development project by the Mexican institute, which has transferred a patent for the nanocompound to ADS' joint venture partner, ADS Mexicana.
``They will be selective tests before we apply [to the competent authority] for permission to introduce the piping to the market,'' Roberto Cornejo, a senior ADS Mexicana representative, said in a Jan. 27 interview.
The Mexicans started their nanocompound work in 1996. A team of five, including Antonio Sanchez Solís, one of 100 researchers employed by the Mexican institute, spent 12 months at the National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Materials Institute in Quebec between 1999 and 2000.
The Mexican research team's efforts, supported by three IMI members, have attracted much interest in Latin America, Sanchez added.
``We are getting many inquiries from across the region. We use basic research and then apply it to recycled products.''
In addition to ADS, one other technology transfer has been made and 15 other applications for the technology are on a waiting list, Sanchez said, explaining that it takes six years for the Mexican authorities to approve a patent request.
They include companies that want the technology for agricultural projects and others that would use it for domestic products, including brooms.
``All broom handles were once made of wood,'' said Sanchez. ``But there's so little wood available these days that metal handles covered with PVC are popular. This [nanocompound] technology will replace both wooden and metal broom handles.''
The university in Mexico City, popularly known as UNAM, sells 15-year patents for such technology for between $650,000 pesos (US$45,590) and $1 million pesos (US$70,140).
For a patent's duration, the purchaser also pays 3 percent of the annual profits made on the product to the university.
ADS introduced a corrugated PE drainage pipe in the United States in 1966, the year it was founded. Today the pipe is widely used in agriculture, mining, forestry, recreation, and civil engineered construction projects.
ADS Mexicana was formed in 2000 and has several manufacturing plants in Mexico, including one in Los Mochis, where the definitive tests will be carried out, according to Sanchez.