UConn News HomeUConn News

Company moves to Connecticut to benefit from ERI's technology (Released: 8/18/97)

by Renu Sehgal-Aldrich, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Halox Corp., a start-up chemical company, has relocated to Bridgeport, Conn., from Texas to take advantage of the expertise at the University of Connecticut’s Environmental Research Institute. Halox was also enticed back by the state’s excellent manufacturing and technical work force. The company will create at least 150 manufacturing jobs in the state.

"UConn brought me here. The state was also very encouraging. The state is really looking to create jobs," said Richard Sampson, who owns Halox with his wife Allison Sampson.

Over the next five years, the Sampsons hope to hire about 150 people in Bridgeport. They left the state four years ago and were wooed back this June. In addition to facilities in Bridgeport, Halox will have an experimental lab at ERI through a Critical Technologies grant and work with ERI’s Jim Fenton, director of the Pollution Prevention Research & Development Center and an associate professor of chemical engineering. The Critical Technologies Research Program teams businesses with scientists to invent technological innovations, to devise new or better products, and to create and retain jobs.

The state has approved $3.25 million in grants and loans to Halox from the Department of Economic and Community Development for equipment purchases, facilty improvements and training for new employees.

"Halox Corporation is an outstanding addition to Connecticut’s business community and a firm with tremendous growth potential," said President Philip Austin. "I am pleased that UConn was a major consideration in their decision to relocate here. This is an excellent example of how smaller companies with limited in-house research capabilities can take advantage of the academic and technical expertise of a major research institution to enhance existing products and develop new ones. We welcome Halox as a partner in restoring jobs to Connecticut and revitalizing the state’s economy."

Halox makes chemicals from salts through electrolysis. Sodium chlorite is made into chlorine dioxide for infectious disease control. It kills bacteria in the water without producing the dangerous byproducts that chlorine does. Another product is bromine, which is made from bromide to safely disinfect swimming pools and industrial cooling towers.

The third product Halox makes is iodine, which is derived from iodide for use as a topical disinfectant for surface infections. Currently available disinfectants are not very effective on the surface because they have too little free available iodine or sting because they have too much salt, Sampson said. This product will be beneficial for burn patients, for inner ear problems and to avoid periodontal disease.

"The Environmental Research Institute is very excited that Halox decided to move back to Connecticut," said George Hoag, director of ERI and associate professor of civil engineering. "We are particularly pleased that they see ERI’s faculty, staff and facilities as their key motive for relocating from Texas. ERI’s Environmental Product Development Fund, part of the Critical Technologies Program, helped us to help Halox advance their products and will continue our ability to keep Halox on the forefront with both technology and highly skilled researchers."

Fenton, director of ERI’s Pollution Prevention Research and Development Center, said, "Halox’s products make useful oxidizing agents using non-toxic salts when they need to be used, avoiding the need to store hazardous chemicals. This is terrific ‘green’ technology."

ERI was started in 1987 to conduct research to advance environmental technologies and the understanding of natural systems that would help businesses and state agencies more effectively manage environmental concerns. The institute has tailored its research to produce spin-off products and licensing agreements with commercial potential for state companies. Researchers and graduate students either develop the technology themselves or test and improve those generated by businesses.