Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Environmental Quality Assessment of contaminated soils

Posted by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPCResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

Environmental quality of soils is determined using analytical chemistry methods, with expensive and sophisticated equipment. Toxicity assays provide a global response regarding the danger of contaminated soil to living organisms. However bioassays are based in lengthy experimental procedures (between 7 and 28 days) to provide reliable results. Normalized soil assays use different species of earthworms and collembola that must be grown and maintained in specialized facilities. Partners to further develop the technology and/or to establish commercial agreements along with technical cooperation are sought.

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

The Challenge


Soil toxicity assays are usually based on the soil exposure to test organisms to determine survival or inhibition of reproduction. In the avoidance test the quality of a contaminated soil is determined by the degree of avoidance that the suspected soil causes to the test organisms. One of the R&D activities at CRIT (Research Center in Toxicology) deals with new methods to assess the quality of potentially contaminated soils. The goal is to develop a portable avoidance test using organisms that can be kept in latent form, and reconstituted on demand to perform the soil avoidance test. Once developed, the assay kit can be easily used to obtain results related to the environmental quality of a suspected soil, without the need for a complex laboratory facility to maintain and keep a supply of test organisms ready for the test.

The Technology


We have studied different methods to be able to obtain Collembola of the species Folsomia Candida (or their eggs), in such a form that allow to have a supply of test organisms (or their eggs) in a latent form, in such a way that they can be used at will, when there is the need to perform a soil toxicity test. The latent eggs would ensure the availability of test organisms when needed. After reconstitution, the eggs will hatch providing enough number of organisms to run the avoidance test following recently published international standards.

Current stage of development


Currently our project is at the latest stages of development, refining the methodology and results validation.

Applications and Target Market


The COLTOX kit is a Soil Toxicity test kit addressed to assay laboratories, administrations, regulatory and inspection agencies, soil engineers and professional consultants interested in the study of soil and control of soil contamination or remediation technologies.

Innovative advantages


· The COLTOX kit will be used to perform the avoidance test to assess the environmental quality of a suspected contaminated soil, avoiding the need to maintain a normalized culture of test organisms.
The avoidance test provides results in a timeframe shorter than most standardized soil toxicity assays.
Results are reliable, inexpensive in terms of time (between 2 and 48 hrs) and resources (no need to maintain test organisms in continuous culture), and the assay can be used as screening tool for the evaluation of contaminated sites, or to verify the efficacy of remediation technologies .

Intellectual property status

Granted Patent
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Technology available for licensing with technical cooperation Patent Status Priority application

Technology Owner

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office

Related keywords

  • Biological Sciences
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Analyses / Test Facilities and Methods
  • Biology / Biotechnology
  • Remediation of Contaminated Sites
  • Soil and Groundwater Pollution
  • Protecting Man and Environment
  • Environment
  • Climate Change mitigation

About Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office from Spain

The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech is a public institution dedicated to higher education and research in the fields of engineering, architecture and science, which contributes its knowledge and expertise in order to increase scientific output, transfer its results to society and provide a network of scientific and technical state-of-the-art facilities and technology valorization services that place us at the leading edge of innovation and economic development.

The UPC has established itself as a driver of innovation and is the technology partner of choice for companies and organizations with which it develops projects and builds partnerships. A role borne out by the numerous agreements and research projects that have been set in motion by groups, organizations and laboratories; the creation of new technology-based companies; the generation and exploitation of patents, and the scientific and technical services UPC makes available to its environment in order to generate progress and employment.

The Technology Transfer Office (SGI) is responsible of Designing, coordinating and implementing research valorisation strategies, carrying out the protection policy of the research results, marketing these results through license contracts and designing and setting up the University's enterprise creation model in order to transfer the results of the research to the market, protect and commercialize these results, promote the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, and create technology-based companies within the UPC environment.

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