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Texas Innovator Winter 2008


Ants be gone

Fire Ant and True Stop Bottleant

People and fire ants do not like each other, and apparently neither likes manure. Dean Holz’ Stet Corp., based near Salado, Texas, turns Stephenville dairy cow manure into True Stop®, an all-natural liquid fire ant killer.

“It's a mound-to-mound drench product,” Holz said. “Fire ants can detect the poison in everything that’s on the market now. Once they do that, they’re gone.”

Holz says True Stop® works in a way that mimics natural death in the ants, rather than signaling alarms that a poison is afoot.

True Stop® was ready for the world in the late 1990s, Holz says, but Mother Nature had other ideas. A severe drought starting in 2000 drove the ants, which have caused more than $236 million in damage in Texas, deep underground and temporarily put the stop to True Stop®.

“We just elected to close the doors and go back to the drawing board,” he says. “When the drought hit, the fire ant product was the only thing we had.”

Now that rains and ants have returned, Stet has resurrected True Stop® and also now has a product for whiteflies, insects similar to aphids, as well as a compost and root stimulator.

For more information, contact Dean Holz,



Pill-based cancer treatment

Liver cancer patients may have a prolonged lease on life after results of a two-year study showed that pill therapy — with the drug sorafenib — slowed or stopped the growth of tumors within the liver.

While the treatment did not eliminate or shrink tumors, patients in the study survived an average of three months longer than those on a placebo pill. A three-month difference in survival is thought by doctors at Johns Hopkins University to be a significant gain in liver cancer. More than $88 million in research is spent annually on liver cancer, which affects 19,000 Americans.

For more information, contact Dr. Josep Llovet,, (212) 241-3923


Big sky diving

Skydiver in Space

Orbital Outfitters, a company designing spacesuits for the burgeoning private space industry, is developing a life jacket for future space travelers.

The spacesuit and parachute system would allow an astronaut in trouble to survive the 60-mile fall from the edge of space. The company hopes the system also could be used for recreational jumps, or “space diving” — what it describes as “the most extreme sport in human history.”

For more information, contact Jonathan B. Clark, Orbital Outfitters, (202) 546-8074


Complete rubbish


Hoping to replace the 350 million or so concrete blocks manufactured each year in England, British engineers with the University of Leeds are using trash and other waste materials to form “Bitublocks” as an alternative.

The Bitublocks are made from crushed glass, pulverized fuel ash, steel slag and other waste products that would normally wind up in landfills or, worse, wherever they happen to be discarded. Further, less energy is required to make the Bitublocks than is needed for concrete, according to John Forth with the Leeds School of Engineering.

Bitumen, a sticky organic substance used widely in road construction, is the binding agent for Bitublocks, which are molded and then heated to oxidize the mixture into a hardness that rivals concrete.

For more information, contact Dr. John Forth,


A green oil boom

Texas may be at the dawn of another oil boom — but this oil is emerald-green and delicious. Parts of southern Texas are suitable for the cultivation of olive trees, and a small but growing industry hopes to bring Texas olive oil to market shelves.

Olive oil

According to Olive Oil Source, an industry Web site, Texas has at least nine olive oil companies. One firm, The Texas Olive Ranch, has 40,000 trees planted near Carrizo Springs. The group expects its first commercial harvest to hit store shelves in spring 2008, and touts its product as 100-percent Texas olive oil.

And Texas has attracted the attention of foreign producers as well. The Spanish food company Grupo SOS, which produces about 15 percent of the world's olive oil, recently announced plans to establish olive groves in the state. Once planted, these olive trees should yield oil in commercial quantities within three years. Grupo SOS will bottle the oil at a facility in Brazoria County, company officials say.

Americans spent $894.1 million on olive oils in 2005, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts.

For more information, visit the GrupoSOS Web site at

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