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CACT Case Studies PDF Print E-mail

“Beginning with our founding by NYSCC graduates in 1981 and on to recent analysis of new ceramic compositions, the CACT’s accessibility and capability to meet our needs have helped us grow.”

– Truett Sweeting, operations manager, VESUVIUS Hi-Tech Ceramics

The Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) has helped companies overcome challenging problems, find answers, develop innovative solutions and grow their business. The CACT’s success is measured in a number of ways as the program is designed to

·     spur technology-based applied research and economic development in New York;

·     encourage applied research collaboration and innovation with industry; promote workforce development;

·     better leverage State funds with investments from the Federal government, industry, foundations, and not-for-profit economic development organizations; and

·     increase the competitiveness of New York State Companies.

These case studies tell the stories of technological projects from conception to completion, and they provide excellent examples of problem-solving with regard to both products and processes.

Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems Div. PDF Print E-mail

Business: Lockheed Martin Corporation, Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems Div.

Location: Syracuse, NY (division location): HQ Bethesda, MD

# Employees: 2200 at Syracuse location

Year Business Founded: 1995, with roots reaching back to 1909

Summary of Story

Over the last 5 years, more than $260M worth of contracts and R&D programs have received direct benefit from involvement in the NYSTAR-sponsored Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at Alfred University (CACT).  The CACT center provides technical support which helps enable these programs. 

Most of these programs would have happened without Lockheed Martin’s (LM’s) involvement in the CACT center, but with greater cost/difficulty, and would have required LM to go elsewhere for resources.  Many of these programs are large system programs of which the ceramic content is very small, but none the less very critical.  It is therefore difficult to attach an exact dollar amount for economic impact, but suffice it to say that the $260M is in programs that have received direct benefit and which have an actual ceramic content value of less than 5%. 

The fabrication of piezoelectric materials for sensors and transducers requires a significant understanding of the solid state reactions between the various constituent oxides, the role of various dopants, structure-property relationships and other aspects of material science.  The Alfred University (AU) professors and the CACT center have provided technical assistance, materials research and analytical tools which enabled LM to develop the understanding necessary to produce piezoelectric and dielectric ceramics for various applications. 

Specific tools such as X-Ray Diffraction, Scanning Electron Microscopy with elemental analysis capability, thermal analyses and high field testing capability are critical to understanding the ceramic materials LM makes.  Many of these tools are cost prohibitive for LM to purchase and maintain internally, so LM has relied on the tools available at the CACT center. 

The knowledge gained over the years has translated into being able to produce quality ceramic materials for transducer and sensor applications.  This past year the focus has been on developing new sensor materials for underwater acoustic arrays which paves the way for future business opportunities.  This coming year LM will be utilizing the expertise of AU professors to assist with electrical property characterization of improved sensor piezoelectric ceramics.  By maintaining LM’s level of expertise in electro-ceramic materials processing, the company has new and improved materials for underwater acoustic applications that pave the way for maintaining current business and winning new opportunities. 

In addition to the transducer and sensor business, LM has been working with AU professors in conjunction with two other small companies to develop high temperature dielectric materials for a variety of military and commercial capacitor applications.  The CACT’s contribution to these programs is small, but it allows the company to be a niche supplier of specialty dielectric powders.

Cerion Enterprises PDF Print E-mail

Business: Cerion Enterprises


Location: Rochester, NY


# of Employees: 22


Year Business Founded: Started in June 2009


Summary of Story:


Understanding how a ceria additive increases fuel efficiency is the goal of a collaborative research project between an Alfred University professor and Cerion Enterprises, LLC.

Cerion continues to support the work of Dr. Alastair Cormack, the Van Derck Frechette Professor of Ceramic Science in the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University.  Dr. Cormack’s research group is using computational techniques to simulate the structure and energetics of ceria-based nanoparticles. 


Cerion’s GO2 catalyst is an eco-friendly diesel fuel additive that decreases fuel consumption by a minimum of 8% while also reducing harmful emissions and particular matter.


A primary goal of Dr. Cormack’s research is to provide a deeper understanding of the atomic scale mechanisms responsible for the extraordinary performance of these nanoparticles.  A secondary goal is to develop a computer-based approach for designing other nanoparticle catalysts. Ideally, the simulation would reduce the number of laboratory experiments needed for new technological developments.


“The insight and guidance that Dr. Cormack’s calculations provide is an integral part of our research program for the production of higher reactivity catalytic nano materials that approach the limits of solid state chemistry”, said Dr. Kenneth Reed, Chief Technology Officer.


“This research is a perfect example of how computational tools can provide significant insight into materials that is unattainable by more traditional experimental methods,” noted Dr. Matthew Hall, project co-sponsor Director.  “We are thrilled to be working with Cerion Enterprises and look forward to helping advance the science of combustion catalysts.”


The Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at Alfred University is also partially supporting Dr. Cormack’s project with Cerion Enterprises.

INEX Incorporated PDF Print E-mail

Business: INEX Incorporated

Location: Holland, New York

# Employees: Seven Full Time Employees; One part time

Year Business Founded: Started in 1983

Summary of Story

INEX Incorporated is a small company that successfully survived the recent economic downturn without fully reducing its employment level.  The company took advantage of the NYS Short Work Week Unemployment to retain its workforce at that time.  Five of its seven employees used that benefit, and all five are now again fully compensated by INEX.

The company was originally founded on the premise that the superior heat transfer and material characteristics of silicon carbide would make an excellent replacement for nickel/chrome alloy (stainless steel) radiant tubes in high temperature industrial furnaces all of which eventually fail.  However, its high cost was a barrier to industry acceptance and the company had to invent a new low cost processing method for tubular shapes.  The process was literally developed in one of the founding member’s basement and later moved into a horse barn where prototype tubes were first fabricated.  Still later, the company built a unique manufacturing facility around the equally unique vertical induction furnaces.  This facility enabled the company to successfully compete with conventional metal tubes and now has customers worldwide.

As the company matured, its customers required material validation and testing.  Both the NYSTAR-sponsored CACT at Alfred University and NYSERDA-sponsored work at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute were instrumental in providing material analysis that the company was unable to do internally.  The original development benefited from support by the Gas Research Institute (now the Gas Technology Institute) in Chicago, Illinois.

Recently, the company has developed heat exchanger tubes with spiraled internal fins that are expected to significantly impact heat transfer industries globally.  Although the company is still relatively small in terms of employees, it now enjoys a global reputation for helping users of industrial furnaces improve their productivity and reduce maintenance expenses.

Innex Industries Rises to Meet the Challenge of Customer Demands PDF Print E-mail

Business: Innex Industries, Inc.


Location: Rochester, NY


# Employees: 20


Year Business Founded: Started in 1979


Summary of Story:


Innex Industries, Inc. is a machine shop specializing in compaction tooling. The company had been using chrome as a wear-surface lining for its compaction parts—until customers gave them a heads-up. Their customers requested that they switch to a ceramic liner. But Innex wasn’t sure which material would work best, or how to best machine the ceramic liner.

Enter the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) at Alfred University. “We signed up as an affiliated company for two years,” said Lee Snook, production manager at Innex. “During that time, the CACT handled all the research for us to test a variety of samples our customers gave us. The CACT helped us identify which ceramic material would deliver the longest wear life based on the friction demands of our tools.”

“With all the knowledge we gained during our two years of working with the CACT, we were also able to expand into other markets,” Snook added.

The first year involved testing all the samples. “The CACT got us going in the right direction,” said Snook. “Our second year, they provided us with support while we learned how to machine the ceramic liner and put the whole process into production.”

The results?

“We actually developed a patent using an application ceramic for a compaction tool fitted with a ceramic sleeve—which gives customers six to eight times longer life than chrome, depending on the application,” said Snook. “We became much more knowledgeable about what our customer base demanded. And with all the knowledge we gained during our two years of working with the CACT, we were also able to expand into other markets. They were very accessible and responsive.”


Industry Advisors

As a complement, the Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT) is building a "Team" of Industry Advisors from a broad spectrum of industries experienced in a wide range of industries such as Energy, Healthcare, and Environment.

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The Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology is sponsored by the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation.

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Short Courses

For those interested in increasing their expertise in the field of ceramics and glasses, or those just being introduced, Short Courses are a good option. Designed for professionals in the ceramics and glass industry, these intensive courses offer a chance to update knowledge of the field in a short period of time.  Courses range from detailed, in-depth examinations of very specific topics to broader introductory classes.

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