Steve Sloop ‘87 has collected a handful of patents along the way toward developing an innovative recycling process for lithium-ion batteries — the rechargeable variety found in laptops, cell phones and all sorts of gadgets. Millions of these are discarded each year, and Sloop, starting with a seed grant from the Oregon Department of Energy, has built his own market niche for dealing with them.

Sloop founded OnTo Technology in 2004, and the company is currently expanding its reach as a pioneer in extracting viable raw materials (100 percent of them, in many cases) from old products. One potential area for future growth comes from hybrid car batteries, which stand to begin expiring en masse in the near future. Sloop continues to use his Willamette degree and subsequent training from a chemistry PhD to lead the way in finding environmentally responsible — and marketable — ways of dealing with high-tech scrap.

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