R and D Magazine Names Phenomenex to Its List of Top 100 Technology Innovations Second Year in a Row

Phenomenex, Inc.,Wins the R&D 100 Award for Breakthrough in Gas Chromatography


TORRANCE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Phenomenex, Inc., a global leader in the separation sciences business, has been notified by R&D Magazine that it has won the coveted R&D 100 Award for the second year in a row.


The new breakthrough product developed by Phenomenex researchers, called the Zebron Inferno™ gas chromatography column, sustains scorching temperatures up to 430 degrees Celsius (806 degrees Fahrenheit). A polyimide coating protects the column from extreme temperatures, so it can be used in measuring contaminants in a host of biodiesel, pharmaceutical, life sciences, and food and beverage products. It also yields greater accuracy in work place drug testing and the use of banned substances in athletics.


The award will be announced formally in the September issue of R&D Magazine, a monthly U.S. business publication read by technology decision makers and leaders in research and design worldwide. Characterized as the “Oscars of Innovation” by The Chicago Tribune, the R&D 100 recognizes those products the editors consider the most important technological breakthroughs during the year.


Phenomenex joins the ranks of a very few companies that also won the award in 2006. Headquartered in Torrance, the company is a technology pioneer in developing and manufacturing chromatography products used in the separation, analysis and purification of pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals and a broad spectrum of chemicals. With projected ’07 sales exceeding $110 million and 465 employees, privately held Phenomenex has offices in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.


“Winning the R&D 100 Award two years consecutively demonstrates our on-going commitment to innovation and drive to lead technological advancements across the entire spectrum of chromatography products,” says Fasha Mahjoor, founder and CEO.


“The list of companies that have garnered this award represents some of the most innovative, inventive technology-based companies in the world. We are very pleased to be part of such a respected group of industry leaders.”


“What makes this innovation in the Zebron Inferno product so exciting is that it represents a breakthrough in gas chromatography, an industry segment that has become regarded as fairly mature,” says Sky Countryman, product manager for Phenomenex’s gas chromatography product line.


“Legacy gas chromatography columns cannot sustain temperatures over 380 degrees Celsius without becoming brittle, wearing out quickly and requiring replacement,” notes Jim Archer, lead R&D scientist for the Zebron Inferno.


“But with this product, a new polyimide coating protects the column externally and an improved bonding stabilizes the column internally. The column lasts longer and doesn’t crumble under extremely hot temperatures, eliminating the need for unwieldy stainless steel columns.”


Countryman views the burgeoning biodiesel industry as having the greatest market potential for the Zebron Inferno. The explosive growth in the biodiesel industry is fueled by international initiatives to increase the use of renewable fuel resources, which some experts project will replace as much as 20 to 30 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption in just a few years. Conversion of used vegetable cooking oil and other vegetable-based substances into fuel oil also could represent significant growth in biodiesel products.


“The process of manufacturing biodiesel produces glycerin residue that tends to ‘gunk up’ a car’s fuel system,” Countryman explains. “That’s why the federal government regulations require biodiesel manufacturers to monitor glycerin levels very closely. The Zebron Inferno’s capability to sustain scorching temperatures gives it a strong advantage over other GC columns, providing a more precise measurement of glycerin content.”


Other markets Countryman considers important for the Zebron Inferno include the life sciences, food and beverage, and agriculture.


“Gas chromatography is considered the ‘gold standard’ in testing for a broad spectrum of substances,” says Countryman. “The same attributes the Zebron Inferno lends to glycerin testing in biodiesel products will add greater precision in quantifying contaminants in pharmaceuticals, measuring triglyceride and fatty acid levels in food products, and even workplace drug testing and the use of banned substances in athletics. It can also be used to measure the presence of banned pesticides in agricultural products, a problem of heightened significance in the growing ‘world economy."


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