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Feature Story | Argonne National Laboratory

Four examples of industry gaining an edge by using Argonne facilities

Companies large and small regularly collaborate with Argonne, tapping into the lab’s expertise, facilities, and unique tools.

Here are four examples of industry gaining an edge by working with Argonne.


One of the most successful drugs used to stop the progress of HIV got its start at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne. The facility— one of the most complex machines in the world and large enough to house a major-league baseball stadium in its center—provides high-energy X-ray beams used to study how viruses interact with cells. This information helps researchers design drugs to block or reduce those interactions. This facility is used by more than 5,000 scientists from around the world each year. In 1996, scientists from Abbott Laboratories (now AbbVie) who were using the Advanced Photon Source discovered a way to stop HIV from replicating in the body. Out of that work came the drug Kaletra®. In 2002, Kaletra® became the most-prescribed drug in its class for AIDS therapy, and it remains widely used today. Kaletra® has extended the lives of thousands of AIDS patients.


By collaborating with Argonne and software developer Convergent Science, Inc., heavy equipment manufacturing giants Caterpillar and Cummins gained access to cutting-edge computer modeling and analysis tools and expertise that have allowed them to achieve major advances in fuel economy and reduce development costs and time-to-market for internal combustion engines. The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility is home to a number of high-performance computers, including Mira, the world’s ninth-fastest supercomputer, which is capable of 10 quadrillion calculations per second. Through its Virtual Engine Research Institute and Fuels Initiative (VERIFI), Argonne has developed engine models and software for large-scale computer simulations that provide—in virtual space, before costly physical production ever begins—a better understanding of how internal combustion engine parameters interact.


Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc.—a locomotive manufacturer that is a subsidiary of Progress Rail Services Corporation, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc.—has a long-standing research partnership with Argonne. Argonne’s Engine Research Facility is home to two of the company’s diesel locomotive test engines. The goal of the collaboration is to develop and test new emission-reducing technologies for locomotive engines in response to EPA regulations, and to identify ways to improve overall engine performance. As a result of Argonne research, Electro-Motive Diesel produces locomotive engines that are more reliable, efficient, and environmentally friendly; they meet EPA emission standards without costly losses in fuel economy. 


In cancer patients, a tiny number of cancer cells break off from a tumor and circulate in the blood. If researchers can capture these, they can grow them in the lab and test them to find the best drugs to treat the patient. Collaborating with Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, Creatv MicroTech, Inc.—a company that specializes in microfabrication and biodetection—has developed a specialized microfilter that encourages the captured cancer cells to grow into clustering domes, which more closely resemble actual tumors and are thus better for testing treatments. Creatv MicroTech plans to commercialize its specialized microfilter in the near future. 

To learn how your business might work with Argonne to improve processes, create products, or discover breakthrough, disruptive innovations, contact Argonne’s Technology Commercialization and Partnerships Division at partners@​anl.​gov, call 800-627-2596, or browse the website.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.