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Wooster prof turns glass into gold, revolutionizing toxic cleanup options

Paul Edmiston, a chemistry professor at Wooster College, had been working on his experimental, patented nano-glass for a few years but couldn't quite figure out a way to market a product.

But thanks to a chance encounter on an airplane this past January with entrepreneur Stephen Spoonamore, that all changed.

Since then, Absorbent Materials Company has exceeded both of their expectations, creating a workforce of nine and manufacturing two operational products -- with a few more in development. By year's end, the reactive glass company hopes to pad its staff by as many as 10 additional employees -- including sales, engineering and production positions -- as the business continues to expand.

The mainstay of ABS Materials' product line is Osorb, a stable engineered silica capable of swelling to absorb eight times its weight in liquids. One of ABS Materials' products, Osorb Water Mesh, separates dirty, toxic water mined as a byproduct to gas and oil, using Edmiston's hi-tech, patented embedded glass mesh.

Another, Iron-Osorb TCE, soaks up and remediates excess chemicals in the ground near commercial production facilities.

During initial conversations, Spoonamore recalls Edmiston saying "No one is taking me seriously."

"I took his science very seriously," says Spoonamore, now chief executive officer of the firm. "I recognized his brilliance."

The company now has a lab in Wooster, as well as a production facility and office. ABS Materials hopes to add some labs at the Ohio State University in the coming year.

For its innovative work, ABS Materials was awarded a GLIDE award from the state, initial funding from private investors and is working with two initial customers on recovery and remediation operations.

Source: Stephen Spoonamore, Absorbent Materials Company
Writer: Colin McEwen

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