High-tech shampoo, via the Department of Energy

  @FortuneMagazine February 10, 2014: 5:55 PM ET
QUI20 shampoo

When Procter & gamble wanted to refine the formula of its venerable Head & Shoulders antidandruff shampoo, it turned to an unlikely source. General Electric went to the same place when it needed to make its jet-engine turbines more fuel-efficient. And Ford knocked on the same door when it wanted to find a more effective way to cool a car engine using the air that naturally streams under the hood.

The solutions for the tricky problems facing these Fortune 500 companies all came from -- believe it or not -- the government. Each of the companies found answers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, one of a handful of labs funded by the Department of Energy. At a time when the country seems divided between those who believe Big Business is the answer to all our problems and those who see big government as the only solution, the public-private partnership serves as proof that sometimes the two sides work better when they team up.

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