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NASA selected an innovative groundwater treatment technology as its 2005 Government Invention of the Year and its Commercial Invention of the Year recipient. The technology uses an emulsion of zero-valent iron to reductively dehalogenate halogenated solvents that contaminate groundwater and soil. It was developed by researchers at the Kennedy Space Center and the University of Central Florida, in Orlando. This technology can be used to treat a range of dense, hydrophobic liquids such as carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, and trichloroethylene. NASA's specific interest in this technology involved the latter solvent, which has contaminated freshwater sources near a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. The contamination came from the solvents that were used to clean Apollo rocket parts in the 1960s. NASA has issued six nonexclusive licenses on this technology for commercial applications involving cleaning up contaminated industrial areas and EPA Superfund sites.
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