Tyrell, a Houston based genetic engineering group, needed assistance clearing up a technical matter. Their newly developed Zeno, designed to clear up acne, required an improved heating element. They contacted the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) and requested assistance with developing a heating element that would meet specifications and be simple and inexpensive to produce.

Tyrell representative Robert Conrad explained to SATOP Project Engineer Ashley Ramirez that the Zeno was designed to heat the infected area and reduce the bacteria count. Originally, the device was applied to an infected area, where the controller unit heated up the rod to a specified temperature. At that point, Tyrell had achieved a significant decrease in the bacteria count. However, they were not satisfied with the design of the heating element, citing that it was too cumbersome for their application.

Tyrell requested SATOP recommend a new design that would be resistant to oils and acids with a cylindrical shape that would be .0312 inch in diameter. Resistance change would be the method of temperature feedback. The heater would have to run on five volts and consume approximately five watts in operation. Finally, the heater would have to be cost competitive, at less than $1 in large quantities.

SATOP matched Boeing Engineer Allen Saad with the request for technical assistance. Saad’s solution was instrumental in leading the company in the right direction toward designing a new heating element. Tyrell credited Saad and SATOP with reducing the cost of the heating element by as much as 20 cents per unit.

“SATOP may not have developed the final product,” said Conrad, “but they were instrumental in getting us on the right path. Working with Boeing Engineer Allen Saad, gave us a whole new perspective on our approach to the solution.”

Tyrell has begun Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing and is in the process of completing the final design. The product could be manufactured within six months.

“Not every solution developed within SATOP is implemented,” said SATOP Executive Director Bob Mitchell. “Sometimes a company simply needs a new perspective. That is what we were able to provide in this success story.”