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Hebrew U Tech Transfer Company Launches Million-Dollar Cleantech Fund

Yissum, the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is launching a million-dollar program to support the development of clean-tech inventions by scientists at the university. Initially, five technologies have been chosen for funding, three of which aim to reduce the polluting effects of toxic substances and create alternative, clean energy sources. These inventions involve the generation of clean fuel, detoxification of gasses emitted by burning fossil fuels, and detecting toxic chemicals.

"We hope that this initiative will assist in bridging the gap between the Hebrew University's cutting-edge research in these fields and the product-based industry, leading eventually to the commercialization of new 'green' technologies for the benefit of us all," said Nava Swersky Sofer, president and CEO of Yissum.

Researchers at the Institute of Chemistry have invented a method for the effective clearing of poisonous mercury from gases emitted into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants. A novel technology created by professor Yoel Sasson and his team is based on a unique type of fluid called "Room Temperature Ionic Liquid" that swiftly reacts with the mercury in the gas phase and immobilizes it in a stable oxidized form in the liquid. The method has demonstrated continuous efficiency of 99.8 percent in absorption of mercury from flue gas over a few weeks using a laboratory scale apparatus. In addition, it is cost-effective compared to competing activated carbon injection (ACI) process. Sasson is currently working on designing a pilot scale unit that will be installed in a typical coal-fired power station following the other standard air pollution control devices.

Members of the Department of Applied Physics and the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences have invented a device that enables the simultaneous monitoring of an array of biological sensors designed to detect toxic substances. Professors Aharon Agranat and Shimshon Belkin have invented an optoelectronic device for the simultaneous ultra-sensitive detection of diverse signals from an array of biosensor bacteria, each genetically engineered to sense the presence of a specific substance or group of substances. The technology provides a potential means for cost effective, simultaneous monitoring of chemical and biological substances and materials in varied environments and atmospheric conditions.

Researchers from the Institute of Chemistry and the Harvey M. Krueger Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology have invented a family of photocatalysts based on new nanomaterials. Photocatalysis is the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst and provides a way to harness solar energy for useful chemical work. Photocatalysis has important commercial applications in additional areas including water and air purification, degradation of organic contaminants, and in photoelectrochemical cells. It provides the ability to harness free and clean solar energy, turning it into energy stored in chemical bonds. A new family of photocatalysts developed by professor Uri Banin and his team is based on hybrid metal-semiconductor nanoparticles. The first generation of such materials is presently under investigation and development.

Yissum was founded in 1964 to protect the Hebrew University's intellectual property and commercialize it. Annually, the company generates about a billion dollars in sales by products based on Hebrew University technologies.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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