Partnering opportunity

Colorimetric sensor for detecting formaldehyde


A Spanish university has developed a new and environmentally friendly colorimetric sensor for detection of formaldehyde. It can be used in sensing devices for personal protection systems in various industrial sectors that generate formaldehyde. Researchers are seeking industrial or research partners to license the patent for manufacturing or reach technical cooperation or research agreements to carry out new developments.

Partner sought

- Type of partner sought: Companies, universities or research centers and hospitals - Specific area of activity of the partner: Manufacture of sensing devices, chemical sensors devices, especially as personal protection systems and occupational risk prevention - Task to be performed: License the patent and/or carry out new developments. License agreements to manufacture the device, technical cooperation or research agreements to develop the sensor for specific needs. The invention is applicable to the fabrication of simple and low cost formaldehyde sensing devices, especially as personal protection systems. These systems are useful in various industrial sectors that generate formaldehyde (wood and furniture industry, hospital centers, automotive industry, etc.) as well as a personal protection systems.


Formaldehyde detection usually needs of different instrumental techniques such as spectrophotometry, HPLC, laser-induced fluorescence, capillary electrophoresis, conductimetry or using enzymatic reactions. Although these methods present extremely low detection limits, they required expensive instrumental techniques and experienced laboratory personnel that carry out the measurements. Furthermore, in the case of formaldehyde sensor based on enzymatic reactions their lack of stability is an additional problem. On the other hand, the use of chromogenic reactions is generally time-consuming and tedious and in many cases involves the use of dangerous chemical compounds. Spanish researchers from a public university have developed a new sensor for gaseous formaldehyde detection. The sensor has excellent selectivity and good detection limits, that fall within the commonly accepted by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of USA ranges. The signal generation mechanism is produced directly by a rapid and reproducible reaction that additionally allows obtaining a stable device under normal conditions. The sensor has two channels of detection. Not only it provokes color changes, which allows real-time and naked-eye detection, without the need to use any measuring instrument, but it also provokes changes in fluorescent properties that could be measured with the use of an ultraviolet hand lamp. It worth to be mentioned that the possibility of measuring by two different channels gives robustness and sensitivity to this method. From an environmentally point of view the method is clean since all the components are part of biological organisms and are innocuous for the environment. For this reason, it can be used as a dosimeter, because it respects the environment and is non-polluting. The research group is seeking industrial or research partners. They are interested in reach license agreements for manufacturing the sensor device. Technical cooperation or research agreements for new developments will be considered too.

Advantages and innovations

The main advantages provided by the invention are: - Detection Limits: The direct reaction between the sensor and the formaldehyde leads to a marked color change with detection limits below 2 ppm, limit for 15 minutes of exposure accepted by OSHA (USA). - Two different channels for detection. The device is able to act as a passive colorimetric probe for the detection of formaldehyde in real time (by the naked-eye) and using a fluorescent detector. - Selectivity: The sensor is selective to formaldehyde detection in the presence of other gases. - Simplicity: for its use and for its production. The manufacturing process is very simple and fast which would facilitate the scaling of the production. - Environmentally friendly: the sensor uses low hazard products, which makes the system harmless for the environment and for that reason it could be used as a dosimeter in personal protective equipment for the prevention of occupational hazards.

Development stage

Under development/lab tested

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted

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