According to a recent article, the discovery of DeconGel was accidental. Late one night in 2006, the researchers of Skai Ventures, a Honolulu-based venture capital firm and technology accelerator got a little sloppy with one of their experiments. They were working with a gel that dripped from the lab table onto the floor.  

Source: Courtesy of DeaconGel.
When they peeled it off, the floor beneath was "absolutely pristine, completely clean and white," recalls Wuh, the company CEO. "That's when the wheels started to turn," he says. "We knew we had something interesting there."
Three years of additional research and development transformed that initial puddle of goo into DeconGel. In 2009, Wuh launched a company called CBI Polymers to market and sell the substance. So far, it's been used to scour everything from shipyards to meth labs to Hungarian villages that were inundated with toxic alkali sludge during an industrial accident last year (as we reported on this blog). The company has attracted about 75 clients worldwide, including the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy; the latter provided funding, testing and technical advice. 






One gallon of DeconGel decontaminant sells for $160 and covers between 50 to 100 square feet. The gel can't neutralize radioactivity, but it reduces disposal costs. The story is another great example of creative thinking. Thanks to a small mistake, these researchers were able to develop a great product while creating a social innovation.