Knowledge Share - Netval

Knowledge Share is an IP Platform designed to facilitate the interaction between university technology transfer offices, academic researchers and industry partners, by providing a portal that enables users to easily access information related to patents and technologies that represent the excellence of the scientific know-how in Italy. Our goal is to convey patents in a clear and simple way, by highlighting the advantages that the technologies can bring to the sector of interest and to bring together companies, investors and innovators in contact with this research.

Our Technology Offers

Precious Materials Recovery from Electronic Waste

Short-lived electronic devices have become a significant waste stream globally. A common electronic waste is the liquid crystal display (LCD) screen used in electronic devices such as mobile phones, televisions and computers. Currently, these devices are disassembled in order to eliminate any dangerous parts (e.g., backlight systems containing mercury) and the LCD panel is disposed as non-hazardous waste. Only a small portion of the disassembled components are currently recycled and large amounts of this waste are still being landfilled or incinerated.

The electronic waste, especially LCD panels are a potential source of valuable materials, such as glass and rare metals. LCDs contain two glass plates sandwiching a liquid-crystal mixture. The outer plate surface is covered with polarizer films, and the inner plate surface comprises a functional indium tin oxide (ITO) film composed of indium oxide (90%) and tin oxide (10%). Indium is a critical raw material for industry with limited supplies and high cost. Existing solutions to recover precious materials from LCD panel involves the use of extreme conditions of time and temperature, as well as strong oxidizing agents to eliminate the organic and the need for downstream treatment of the high chemical oxygen demand (COD) wastewater.

Given the above, the technology owner has developed an energy- and water-efficient recycling process to recover high-purity Indium and glass from shredded LCD panel powder (<1 mm), while avoiding the use of strong oxidizing agent or organic chemicals. The process uses a sulphuric acid-based leaching solution to extract Indium in multiple leaching steps, followed sodium hydroxide and zinc powder cementation treatments to further improve its purity. The glass-rich solid residue may be separated and used as a construction material, and the solution may be recirculated for subsequent leaching steps.

This process enables overall material extraction efficiency of more than 90% and may be used in existing electronic waste recycling facilities. The technology owner is seeking industry or research partners to license the technology and co-develop/extend the recycling technology to enable the recycling of photovoltaic panels such as thin film solar panel made of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells, as well as smartphone screens.

DORIAN – Computer method for 3-D images classification

DORIAN is an automated quantitative analysis service of brain amyloid PET imaging, which can be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other neurological conditions. This analysis method for automatic characterization and classification of any n-D images is able to capture global properties by computing features from image isosurfaces, thereby offering suitable alternative to standard methods. DORIAN supports all the commercially available amyloid tracers and allows both global and region-specific quantification. The service is made available through a desktop application which can be provided to users by locally installing this application. This allows users to perform remote image analysis and return result reports in a short time.

The technology provider is looking for collaborators:

  • To further expand the DORIAN analysis line
  • To promote and increase the adoption of DORIAN in major research facilities
  • To obtain ISO9001 and CE certifications as a medical device for the current platform and analysis pipeline so as to bring DORIAN to the international market for medical imaging

Tactile Sensor for Robotic Arm

Current conventional tactile sensors are not adequate to emulate artificial skin in terms of sensitivity and ability to cover large curved surfaces, for applications such as robotic prostheses and industrial collaborative robots. To address this challenge, the technology provider developed a novel tactile sensor that closely emulates the human sense of touch and locating pressure over a large surface, thus reproducing human mechanoreceptors activity. The innovative design with lightness and adaptability to large curved surfaces, can be used to cover robotic prostheses and / or collaborative robotic arms, as an artificial skin. The current patent includes the sensor manufacturing process, a robotic arm coated by this sensor, and a method for its operation. The technology provider is looking for collaborators for co-development and integration within industrial robots.

Battery Management System for Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries

Vanadium is an element that can commonly exist in four different oxidation states, namely an ion with different charges, e.g. a vanadium ion that is missing three electrons would have a charge of V3+. Adding an electron converts it to a V2+ ion. This transfer of electrons back and forth is what makes Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB) charge and discharge. A conventional VRFB consists of two tanks of vanadium-based electrolyte dissolved in water and separated by a proton exchange membrane.

At around 50°C, the ions present in a VRFB begins to crystalise and precipitate within the electrolyte solution. This hinders the redox reactions necessary to generate electricity. An existing solution is to empty the batteries during stand-by, however this inevitably causes a delay in the response time when electricity is required, as the cells need to be filled again. Furthermore, the emptying process can cause a depression within the cells, as this favors the entry of air, causing undesired reactions between atmospheric oxygen and the electrolytes. Alternatively, forced ventilation is used to avoid the precipitation of electrolytes but this has proven to be a complex, costly and energy consuming solution.

Based in Italy, the technology owner has developed a proprietary battery management system (BMS) designed to increase efficiency and longevity of VRFB. The BMS controls the temperature of the electrolytes in order to avoid the precipitation of vanadium salts in the solution, thus preventing the redox reaction from being halted, and avoiding battery damage. The BMS can also improve the battery’s response time, which is suitable when VRFBs are used for quick regulation of grid frequency.

The BMS has been tested on an industrial scale electrochemical energy storage set-up at a university in Italy. The system algorithm currently runs on LabVIEW platform and the software can easily be transferred to common industrial controllers such as programmable logic controller (PLC). The technology owner is seeking industry or research partners to license and adopt the technology.

Biofluid analysis with innovative SERS procedure

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy/Scattering (SERS) is a technique that can be used to analyse biomolecules in various fields including medicine for diagnostic and forensic purposes, drug development and detection. SERS requires the use of a substrate, to which a sample is deposited, in order to obtain the Raman spectrum containing the desired information.

Nevertheless, the available substrates for biofluid analysis do not guarantee reproducibility, are difficult to obtain and often require sample pre-treatment. Here the technology provider proposed an innovative procedure that can strengthen SERS applications to biofluidic analysis by facilitating sample preparation, which is usually expensive, time consuming and prone to errors.

Currently, the technology requires clinical validation and the development of multivariate classification methods based on Principal Component Analysis (PCA)/ Regression and Linear Discriminant Analysis, or models based on machine learning (examples: Supported Vector Machines, Artificial Neural Networks). Hence, the technology provider is seeking collaborators to further develop the technology. Ideal collaborators include cancer research hospitals or diagnostic laboratories. Additionally, the technology provider is looking for different commercial partners to co-develop a kit for clinical applications and/or to license the technology to interested partners.

Solar Driven Water Splitting Electrode for Hydrogen Production

Solar produced hydrogen is a clean and storable source of energy. Here we present a novel InGaN/InN quantum dot photo-anode that can promote direct conversion of solar radiation into zero-impact hydrogen, via a process of photocatalytic water splitting, where the electrode is composed of a nanostructured InGaN/InN layer directly grown on a commercially available silicon (Si) substrate. The technology is cost effective and can be implemented into commercial Si solar cells. The electrode exhibits high resistance to degradation and thanks to the addition of InN quantum dots can lead to almost 10% efficiency without the aid of an external bias.

Monitoring and Assistance for Elderly People

This development has been inspired by the growing demand of both families and professional caregivers for technological tools to assist them in providing cares to older adults through localization, cognitive support, and remote monitoring, which is estimated around 80% and 40% respectively. Today millions of people worldwide must balance work and family duties with the care of an older loved one.

This technology consists of a wearable device and a set of distributed sensors to track a person’s position, identify motor and/or postural activities and evaluate their variation over time. Coupled with a dedicated interface and analysis tools, this technology can also appeal to professionals that need tools to ensure safety and desire to digitalize their operations and reduce repetitive, bureaucratic tasks.

The technology is ready to market, and we are seeking collaborators to fully exploit the patent by integrating the other features described therein (e.g., coaching) and release a version specifically designed for use at home. Preferred collaborators are those that could help us with data collection or co-develop the home-use version with us.

Eco-pesticides Development Platform

Chemical substances used in agriculture (agrochemicals) have a significant impact on the quality of soil, surface and subsurface water. Their extensive and prolonged use over time causes negative effects on ecosystems. This technology proposes the use of natural nano and micromaterials and food-grade polymers to develop smart agrochemicals with a lower environmental impact and associated economic advantages.

This technological platform is applicable to a broad spectrum of pesticides for which controlling leaching, volatilisation and premature degradation is a priority. The university is looking for agrochemical companies to further test the platform and develop custom products.

Thermal Insulation Panel from Citrus Peel

The construction sector consumes large quantities of raw materials, 42 billion tons of materials/year, and generates 25-30% of the total waste in the EU. A circular economy approach could help this sector reduce its environmental impact. The use of agricultural by-products, for the creation of eco-sustainable materials can address these issues. Currently, many building materials have been developed using by-products from rice, sugar, corncob, pineapple, peanuts, coffee, coconut, sunflowers, walnuts, and durian processing.

Orange is the most cultivated fruit in the world and accounts for about 50-60% of the total citrus production. An enormous amount of waste derived from this production; considering that 50% is made up of peels, the waste produced is about 3.4 million tons per year.

The technology presented, aims at reusing orange processing by-products for the fabrication of thermal and acoustical insulation material. The technology allows for the production of rigid, completely natural and self-bonded panels, without the addition of chemical additives. The good thermal properties of the material see a field of application in construction sector, as a thermal insulation panel of the external infill walls of buildings.

Natural Antimicrobial Product from Rosa canina

Antibiotic resistance is a global problem to healthcare, food security and development today. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics including incorrect methods of intake and/or administration have accelerated the scope of antibiotic resistance to impact all regions of the world. To aggravate the situation, there have been divestments from new active molecule discovery in the pharmaceutical industry in recent years. With limited agents to fight against the rising incidences of antibiotic-resistant infections, this calls for the need to develop new antimicrobials.

The technology comprises a product of natural origin, derived from Rosa canina or Rose hips. The product is isolated with a green extraction technique without the use of organic solvents. The product has been shown to possess high antimicrobial and disinfectant activity towards different types of bacteria, including strains that are resistant or multi-resistant to antibiotics.

The technology provider is seeking potential partners for co-development of pilot plants for mass production of this plant-derived antimicrobial agent.

Early Diagnosis of Acute Kidney Injury

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) is a syndrome attacking the kidneys, causing a rapid decline in their functional capabilities. In most cases, AKI occurs in conjunction with other diseases, typically those related to cardiovascular and respiratory systems. For this reason, the highest risk group for AKI are the elderlies, the diabetics, patients with hypertension or heart diseases.

The main problem with AKI now, is the timely diagnosis of the syndrome. It is important for AKI to be diagnosed as soon as possible as it can lead to chronic kidney disease, kidney failure and can even affect other organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs. Current way of monitoring for AKI is the manual reading of the urine level in the urine bag, which is highly inaccurate.

Our technology is a novel system for the early diagnosis of AKI through urine monitoring of patients in intensive therapy units (ICUs). Our system is able to inform the clinicians about patient’s AKI in real time and remotely thanks to proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. The technology is designed with catheterized patients in mind.

Polymeric Resins for the Removal of Toxic Contaminants

Water has been an inexhaustible resource for too long, until growing pollution outlined the need to protect current supplies. In particular, toxic heavy metal ions introduced into the environment by existing industrial activities accumulate biologically and cannot be easily decomposed, threatening human health throughout the entire food chain. Among the possible removal strategies, adsorption is considered as one of the most feasible, versatile and low-cost methods, relying on the physical and/or chemical interactions between the targeted molecules and the adsorbent substrate. However, water contamination is a complex problem that cannot be solved with a single material. Depending on the characteristics of industrial wastewater, it is necessary to use targeted technologies for the elimination of specific contaminants.

To address this challenge, a new adsorbent material with excellent sequestering properties for arsenic (V), chromium (VI) and boron has been developed using N-methyl-D-glucamine (NMG), a chelating molecule used for environmental purposes for its high efficiency and selectivity versus metal ions species. The technology is based on NMG-based hydrogels, produced by cryo-polymerization in water. The synthesis of ad-hoc functionalized polymeric materials with chelating groups is a sustainable and low-cost strategy to obtain adsorbent materials. It can be regenerated, reused, and adapted to existing water treatment plants.

The company is looking for industrial collaborators to co-develop the technology for industrial wastewater treatments.