For the seventh consecutive year, the University of South Florida stands with the world’s top universities in inventing new technologies, tools and objects that have been granted a U.S. utility patent, according to rankings released Tuesday by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
Based on new patents secured during the 2018 calendar year, USF is seventh among American public research universities and 16th among all universities worldwide in generating new patents. The ranking places USF in rare company among the more than 1,000 academic institutions generating new, novel and useful inventions granted intellectual property protection from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The 96 patents that USF inventors earned in 2018 was tops for any Florida university, and span a wide array of technologies – from clean energy solutions to sustainable water technologies to nanoscale particles designed to improve drug delivery in the fight against central nervous system diseases.
“The University of South Florida is proud of the role we play in supporting innovation and invention,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “As part of our mission as a Preeminent public research university, we have a responsibility to examine the most complex issues that impact our society and find novel, practical solutions. The ideas, technologies and products being developed by our talented faculty and students each day make tangible impacts on the world around us.”
Combined, the three universities that comprise the Florida High Tech Corridor Council - USF, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida - secured 218 patents. This places them ahead of nationally recognized centers of innovation, including North Carolina’s Research Triangle and the University of Texas System.
The NAI and IPO have published the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents report annually since 2013. View the complete list of universities here.
Among the new technologies patented by USF faculty are these projects:
Process for Converting Landfill Gas to High-Value Liquid Fuels
USF College of Engineering researchers have developed a process for converting the gas emitted from solid waste in municipal landfills to high-value liquid fuels – creating a cleaner, renewable energy source. When solid waste biodegrades, it produces a landfill gas composed of methane and carbon dioxide which can be used to generate fuels. USF inventors engineered a process to convert this gas into high-value liquid diesel and jet fuel. The technology is also applicable for use at wastewater treatment centers, agriculture farms and other facilities where anaerobic digestion will produce biogas. The technology is the basis for the startup T2C-Energy and the patent is held by USF engineering professor Babu Joseph, associate professor John Kuhn and USF alums Ali Gardezi, Timothy Roberge and Devin Walker. In 2014, Walker – who now serves as CEO of T2C-Energy – was named one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 for his innovative work with the startup.
Manganese Ion Coated Nanoparticles for Delivery of Compositions into the Central Nervous
System by Nasal Insufflation
USF researchers have developed a novel method that delivers genes or small interfering RNA into the brain by nasal insufflations using nanoparticles. A team of USF Morsani College of Medicine faculty developed new nanoparticles which can be safely delivered to the brain in a non-invasive manner for the treatment of Huntington’s disease and other neurological disorders. The nanoparticles allow for more effective therapeutic delivery without the need for invasive neurosurgical injection. Also, the nanoparticles can be visualized by MRI and other similar techniques, allowing clinicians and researchers to visualize the uptake of the nanoparticles and the distribution of the therapeutic. The current method of delivering therapeutic genes or viral vectors into the brain is by minimally invasive neurosurgical injection. For diseases like Huntington’s, which involves the entire brain, injection of a viral vector into multiple brain regions is not feasible.
The technology was invented by professor Juan Sanchez-Ramos, assistant professor Vasyl Sava, assistant professor Shijie Song, distinguished professor Shyam Mohapatra and professor Subhra Mohapatra.
Electrospun Cactus Mucilage Nanofibers
USF College of Engineering Professor Norma Alcantar, associate professor Sylvia Thomas and master’s degree alum Yanay Pais teamed up to produce a new patent using the fibers of a prickly pear cactus to clean and purify water. The technology builds on what has for centuries been a folk practice in Mexico and Central America where contaminated water was boiled with the cactus mucilage to clear it of heavy metals and contaminants.
The engineers fabricated the inexpensive and sustainable cactus mucilage for use in cleaning oil spills from water, as well as purifying contaminated water. The portable system effectively removes arsenic and bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Bacillus cereus from water. This natural, biodegradable product also can be fabricated into a nanofibrous material via electrospinning to create filters to remove bacteria, arsenic and heavy metals from water.