CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio—Silicone industry veteran Dave Brassard is finding that building a better mousetrap isn't always enough. You also need someone to take a chance on the new technology to find that it does what it claims and can make a big difference in a particular industry.
That is what the founder of Cuyahoga Falls-based Silicone Solutions Inc. has run up against with a product called CoolCure, which he developed to improve mass pour concrete. Several years back, he used his background as a chemist specializing in silicone to develop the two-part admixture to achieve what had been thought unfeasible in the concrete industry—yield a concrete that stays much cooler than traditional Portland cement but also yields a much stronger product.
Brassard had tested CoolCure on numerous occasions and even convinced two insiders in the concrete industry that the technology performed as advertised and was worthy of being considered for use in a business sector that was notoriously slow to change—particularly when it involved projects such as bridge supports, embankments, dams and foundries, where the cost of liability for failure can run quite high.
In the ensuing years, however, Brassard has run into a brick wall of sorts, coming close on occasion but not being able to find that right partner, project or a large corporation with the means to move the CoolCure technology forward.
He was granted a U.S. patent on the CoolCure technology in 2019 and conducted more testing. "We had it tested at three different locations on three different pours," Brassard said. "All was consistent each time. In the silicone world, something has to happen three times in a row to be real, as things can surprise you."
The concrete created using CoolCure also was sent out for petrography testing. He said those showed more calcium silicate hydroxide bonds than typical cement, meaning that the resulting product would be stronger.
His hopes of getting tested on a big project like a dam or bridge never got much beyond talk. The major stumbling block there was that once a change in a product is made, then that requires new specifications and approvals within each state, which all have their own regulations and other hoops to jump through, something he wasn't in a position to make happen.
"A big corporation, to them, that's nothing," Brassard said. "They have reps all over that do that. That's why I wanted a big company to let them utilize their contacts, and grease the skids, so to speak. Myself alone, I'm just a small entity. It's like a David and Goliath type of thing, and Goliath is really big, and I'm really small."
In the chemical industry, there also can be a bit of the "not invented here," syndrome, where companies are more likely to embrace new ideas only when they are the ones that developed them.
"I'm prepared to hand it to a big corporation and let them run with it," he said. "Then they can call it theirs. They can name it after themselves. I just want to see it implemented because of how rare it is to make a major change in technology. And in this case, you have the ability to lower pollution significantly."
He'd like to recover the money and time that went into the development, but at this point that's not his main intent. He wants to see it utilized.