Engineering professor honored for Technology Product of the Year

May 21, 2012 | Engineering and Science, Research and Development

Dr. Erez Allouche, associate professor of civil engineering and director of the Trenchless Technology Center at Louisiana Tech University, has won Technology Product of the Year honors from the Louisiana Technology Council (LTC) and the North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) for his innovative, “green” geopolymer concrete technology. Allouche received the “eWARD” for the Shreveport/Bossier City Northern Louisiana region during a ceremony last week sponsored by CenturyLink.  eWARDS is a cooperative program designed to recognize the technological achievements of Louisiana’s top companies, organizations and individuals.  Organizers say eWARDS is a celebration of innovation and achievement for those in the community that have made a positive impact in the technology industry over the past year. “The HTGeopolymer project would never have reached its advanced development level without the support of our regional, national and international partners,” said Allouche.  “I would like to thank Cleco Power, NASA’s Stennis Space Center, M.L. Smith and the many other private entities and government agencies that supported the development and demonstration of this novel technology over the years. “My research team and I feel honored to be recognized by LTC and NLEP, and are committed to continuing to develop and refine this technology until it reaches full commercialization potential within our region and across the country.”

Carlos Montes (third from left) accepts eWARD for Technology Product of the Year on behalf of Dr. Erez Allouche, along with the other Shreveport/Bossier City region eWARD winners.

Over the past few years, Allouche has led a team of researchers at Louisiana Tech to develop his patented geopolymer binder technology with recent emphasis on commercialization in the field of high-end refractory materials.  Allouche’s unique process uses a sodium silicate based polymer to convert a waste by-product, specifically fly ash from coal-fired power plants, into a high performance refractory and corrosion resistant material. Compared to Portland cement, which is an industry standard in concrete construction, Allouche’s geopolymer technology reduces the “carbon footprint” by 90 percent and energy consumption by 85 percent. This “green” technology saves landfill space and reduces risk of contamination of aquifers and bodies of surface water. “Dr. Allouche has received strong support for his novel geopolymer research from utility companies, product manufacturers, contractors and government agencies,” said Dr. Les Guice, vice president for research and development at Louisiana Tech.  “His innovations are already attracting global commercial interests.” Allouche focuses his research on the development of new construction technologies, materials and design methods for underground utilities.  He is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Ontario Premier Research Excellence Award (2001), University Research Award (2005 and 2008), the Engineering and Science Foundation’s Award (2006), and the Louisiana Engineering Foundation Professional Award (2010). “Receiving this award provides further affirmation that the research being conducted by Dr. Allouche’s team is both innovative and commercially beneficial,” said Kathy Wyatt, director of Louisiana Tech’s Technology Business Development Center (TBDC).  “Having the geopolymer technology recognized with such an award helps demonstrate the university’s ability to tie cutting edge research to industrial applications so that existing north Louisiana businesses may be strengthened and new industries may be established within our region.” In addition to Allouche, this year’s Shreveport/Bossier City region eWARD winners included Twin Engine Labs (Growth Company/Organization of the Year), WaLa Inc. (“Coup d’Tech” Award), and Praeses (Best Application of Technology) and John Miralles, director of animation visual services at LSU Shreveport and Pam Varnado of Loyola College Prep (Technology Educators of the Year.) “We are very excited and pleased to be honoring a diverse group of individuals and businesses that are making an important contribution to the region and the state,” said LTC President Mark Lewis. Kurt Foreman, executive director for NLEP added, “Our goal is to bring attention to the impressive technology developments in Northern Louisiana in order to grow community awareness and pride in homegrown achievements.  Events like last week’s celebration of positive achievements encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and help promote the region as a knowledge economy destination.”   Allouche and the other Shreveport/Bossier City region eWARD recipients will compete against winners from the Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans regions for the Governor’s Technology Awards to be held in late June or early July.