American Inventors Are Reinventing Themselves

Christopher J. Nagel's dream is springing to life in an old helicopter-parts factory in Fall River, Mass., where technicians have just built four toxic-waste reactors that Nagel invented. Once the $8 million plant opens this month, the reactors will be able to douse tons of gunk each day in a 3,000F molten-metal bath. From environmental villains such as sludge and cyanide will come cadmium and lead for battery makers, iron and nickel for steelmakers, raw materials for the ceramics industry, and gases for chemicals makers. Almost no waste will remain, meaning Nagel's process could save billions of dollars and help protect planet earth. John Preston, who runs the Technology Licensing Office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, calls alumnus Nagel the school's "greatest inventor--on a scale of 10, he's the only one with a 13 invention."

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