Ecomondo international exhibition: ENEA awarded for 5 eco-innovations


ENEA has won “I geni di Ecomondo 2019” − the Ecomondo geniuses 2019 award − for the best eco-innovations showcased at the 23rd edition of Ecomondo – Europe’s key international environmental sustainability event – hosted by the city of Rimini, Italy. ENEA received the award for five ENEA eco-innovations: the NAO robot that “suggests” how to achieve efficient use of energy in the home; bioplastic from dairy industry waste; a ‘toner’ for 3D printers obtained from plastic materials derived from electrical and electronic waste; smart street lighting; and a hi-tech composting system. The decision was reached by the “Ecofuturo festival” technical and scientific committee of experts from Italy’s major universities and from the world of research. Receiving the award, the director of ENEA’s Department for Sustainability, Roberto Morabito said, “This recognition represents a fresh stimulus for our R&D activities regarding innovative technologies and advanced services for businesses and public administration bodies, and for improving people’s lives in general. The five award-winning eco-innovations were made possible thanks to the considerable competence of our researchers and technologists; the availability of dedicated laboratories and infrastructures; and − it should be stressed − the capabilities enabled by a transversal approach with the focus on product, process and system eco-innovation”.

60 cm in height, weighing 5 kilos, 25 degrees of freedom. These are just three of the specs for the NAO robot presented at Ecomondo, which is able to “advise” users on how to save energy and lower their home energy bills. Thanks to a system of sensors in the home, and two fitted telecameras, NAO – when linked to the domotic system − can monitor rooms and can flag any electrical and heating system malfunctions or water and gas leaks. NAO is one of the technologies developed by the Energy Technologies Department, Smart Energy division.

Another is a smart street lighting solution designed to ensure energy savings, convenience and safety by adjusting the luminous flux to the needs detected by means of innovative optic sensors. These sensors enable additional services such as video surveillance, traffic flow monitoring, and monitoring weather conditions and noise pollution. Thanks to these features, public lighting grids can function as urban digital hubs enabling not only lower energy consumption but also widespread public wi-fi networks. For video footage of NAO, see

For the NAO video at ENEA’s Ecomondo stand located in Hall D3 055, see

Trays for cheeses and bottles for milk are the first 100% biodegradable and compostable bioplastic food product containers made by ENEA in collaboration with the start-up company from the Puglia region, EggPlant, thanks to the BIOCOSÌ project. Already the winner of the “Agrifoodmaker 2019” award (of the Ministry of the Agricultural Food and Forestry Policies, together with other players) for Innovation in the agriculture and food sector, the BIOCOSÌ project has enabled final development of an innovative process that aims to recycle approx. 80% of the waste materials generated by industrial butter and cheese production − through separate recovery of all whey components (serum proteins / peptides, lactose, mineral salts and ultrapure water) − thus producing bioplastics for food preservation. This eco-innovative process leads to production cost cuts of approx. 23% per unit, while tackling the ‘plastics’ problem. Up to the present, bioplastics account for approx. 1% of the 300 million tons of plastics produced each year in Europe. European Bioplastics estimates that demand will grow by 50% in the medium-term future, from around 4.2 million tons in 2016 to 6.1 million tons in 2021. For video footage of the BIOCOSÌ project, see watch? v = eC86U_ubdcI & t = 73s.

It’s called Compostino. It’s a smart low cost system for monitoring and ensuring composting safety and hygiene. Compostino targets composter manufacturers, public administration players managing plants and installations, schools, condominiums, compost self-producers and “digital” artisans. The hardware system − based on the Arduino open source platform − is made up of networked sensors that control and monitor compost parameters, a 3D-printed probes system, and a wireless data transmission network powered by the Internet of Things. By means of its sensors, Compostino acquires data − e.g. temperature, emissions (CO2 and ammonia), compost moisture and pH − to be transmitted via Bluetooth to smartphones or remote databases.

A “tonerfor 3D printers obtained from the plastic present in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), with lower costs than the more widely used commercially available filaments plus the environmental benefits of economic valorization of waste. Our toner is the result of a two-year project conducted by ENEA, as part of a collaboration agreement with the Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Territory and the Sea. The aim is to find a more profitable green alternative to the polymer that is most widely used for power supply cables of 3D printers, namely virgin Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) (ABS), at a selling cost of between 20 and 50 € / kg. Polymers, which make up more than 50% of the weight of the plastic present in WEEE, are still largely destined for energy recovery, landfill or, alternatively, sale (at very low costs: 0.1-0.25 € / kg). This project meets the new needs set forth in current regulations that mandate recovery of materials and energy (i.e. 75-85% of the weight of WEEE devices delivered for processing). For video footage of the “toner”, see

The video images are all linked here and are freely viewable.

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