Rhode Island: It's All in Our Backyard

Cleaning up with innovation

February 19, 2015 by chris

4spectra logoSpectra Systems Corporation just got some good news from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Providence-based company has received a patent for a process that could save central banks around the world billions of dollars annually on costs of replacing soiled banknotes. “Supercritical Fluid Cleaning of Banknotes and Secure Documents” is just one of two Spectra applications that the Patent office allowed recently. Spectra is a leading provider of machine-readable banknote authentication and also has manufacturing and engineering facilities in East Providence.

“We are pleased that we have received patent protection for a process that cleans banknotes without compromising the costly security features on banknotes and that has the potential to save significant amounts of money for taxpayers around the world. In addition to reducing costs for producing new banknotes which are approaching $10 billion annually around the world, the process protects banknote processing staff from contaminants on the notes,” says CEO Dr. Nabil Lawandy.

The issued patent has 19 claims and forms the basis for international filings as well as additional patent applications on associated hardware and processes for decontamination of banknotes. The second allowed patent has 38 claims. Additional patents that extend the use of supercritical fluids to restore the rigidity of banknotes, in addition to cleaning them, are pending.

Experts say that Spectra’s work could even have environmental benefits. Re-circulating used bills rather than destroying them uses fewer raw materials, less energy used in manufacturing and less waste.

No less an authority than a former Director of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing thinks the concept is a winner. Thomas A. Ferguson says, “As currency-issuing authorities are faced with increased costs of today’s sophisticated and technologically advanced banknotes, they are challenged with finding ways to extend the useful life of the notes they issue. It appears that Spectra’s new technology has the potential of cost effectively extending circulation life and lowering the cost of maintaining currency in circulation.”