Position Full Professor
Roles Delegated to Scientific Research
Telephone Lab.: 041 234 8552 / 041 234 8650
Fax 041 234 8517
Website (personal record)
Office Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems
Where: Campus scientifico via Torino
Room: office 508 (where: Campus scientifico via Torino, Alfa building, 5th floor) / office 7b (where: Marghera - Vega, Porta dell'Innovazione, ground floor) / research lab 6 (where: Campus scientifico via Torino, Beta building, 2nd floor) / research labs 7a, 8a (where: Marghera - Vega, Porta dell'Innovazione, ground floor)
Research Institute Research Institute for Green and Blue Growth

Michela Signoretto is Full Professor of Industrial Chemistry (CHIM04) at the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.

She is Leader of the CATMAT group and founder and CEO of the innovative start up “Ve Nice”. The CATMAT research group currently includes 11 people (a full professor, a researcher, a post doc, a technician, four doctoral students, three research fellows) as well as numerous undergraduate and graduate. She managed relations with national and international working groups, also receiving foreign students in her laboratories (Tunisia, Iran, UK, Belgium,…).

Prof. Michela Signoretto is author of 12 book chapters and more than 130 scientific publications on international journals, with high impact factor in the field of heterogenous catalysis, material chemistry and biomaterials. She is author of a national and of an international patent. Her research activity has also produced more than 300 communications at international and national scientific meetings. At present, the H-index of Prof. Signoretto is 39 (Scopus - January 2021, without self-citation it is 35), total number of citations is  4108. She was invited to write many contributions in the last years. She was invited to present her work on many workshops and congresses. As regard as organizing activity, Prof. Signoretto has been member of the scientific and/or organizing committee for many international and national Seminars, Schools and Congresses in Catalysis.

She is National Coordinator of the Interdivisional Group of Catalysis (GIC), member of the International Board of the European Research Institute of Catalysis (ERIC) and member of the Board of National Interuniversity Consortium of Materials Sciences and Technology (INSTM).

She is Rector's Delegate for Scientific Research of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and member of the Board for PhD program in Chemical Science for Consortium Trieste - Venice University.

Prof. Signoretto founded in 2018 the Startup (Spinoff of Ca' Foscari) Ve Nice Srl of which she is CEO. The startup was awarded in July 2018 by the Milano Finanza magazine on the evening of the MF Fashion Veneto Awards, and in December on the occasion of the Eurointerim Women's and Work 2018 national competition.

Funds raising: Prof. Signoretto has been active as scientific referent within several projects with both National and International Academic and Industrial Institutions. Among them in the last five years:

(a)       LIFE project “GOAST Green Organic Agents for Sustainable Tanneries” (2.290.327 €)

(b)       PRIN 2015 (Research Projects of National Interest) project “HERCULES: HEterogeneous Robust Catalysts to Upgrade Low valuE biomass Streams”; (330.628 €)

(c) Projects for research/formation activities funded by ESF (European Social Fund) through the Regione Veneto. These projects were aimed to the development of Innovative technologies and materials for sustainable industrial construction in Veneto, and they were carried out along with an industrial local partner:

(ca 150.000 €)

-FSE 2020 project " HAIR: Hair & AgriFood, Innovare Riciclando"

-FSE 2017 project “NICE: Innovative Nanosystems for efficient cosmetics”

-FSE 2017 project “ELPIS: Enhancement of Lignocellulose Processing for Innovation and Sustainability”

-FSE 2015 project “Materiali e Tecnologie Sostenibili ed Innovative per la bioedilizia in Veneto”

(d) Prof. Signoretto is also the scientific referent for many projects in collaboration with national and international industries and regarding the development of industrial processes. (In the last five years more than 500.000 €).

Prof. Signoretto is Member of the Editorial Board of international scientific journals (Catalysts, Molecules, Reactions) and she is co-editor of four special issues on international scientific journals (Molecules, Catalysts). She has been invited to act as a reviewer for many international Journals of Chemistry and Material Sciences. She is reviewer for funding agencies in Italy (MIUR-FIRB..) and abroad.

Major research interests of Prof. Signoretto are in the field of Industrial Chemistry: she is interested in the development of heterogeneous catalysts and photocatalysts for industrial, environmental, and energetic processes, materials for green building, design of cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulates. Her main research topics are:

1. Development of heterogeneous catalysts and their use in industrial chemistry

In this field, Prof. Signoretto has a solid experience based on years of research: several processes of isomerization, oxidation, acylation, hydrogenation, esterification, steam reforming and dry reforming have been studied, and innovative synthesis and reaction techniques have been set up under both continuous-flow and batch conditions. In particular, she has worked on the synthesis of both mesoporous oxidic supports and nanoparticles of noble metals such as Pd, Pt, Au and of less expensive Ni, Cu, Co, Ru, their characterization and investigation of catalytic processes.

2. Development of catalysts and processes for the production of fine chemicals and fuels from biomass

Prof. Signoretto works on the valorisation of each fraction of lignocellulosic biomass. The research is focused on the development of innovative nanostructured catalysts. The research concerns the upgrading of C5 and C6 fractions (from cellulose and hemicellulose) to highly required products, such as monomers for bioplastics and fragrances. Gold based materials are investigated for oxidation and oxidative esterification reactions.

Prof. Signoretto is also interested in the conversion of lignin, the least valorised fraction of biomass, to fuel or fuel additives by hydrogenolysis reactions. In this case, highly performant, stable and cost-effective catalyst are required. The research is thus oriented to nickel and/or cobalt supported catalyst to upgrade real lignocellulosic biomass from local vineries. More recently she has worked also on pyrolysis process for the valorisation of wastes.

3. Photocatalysts design for fuel production

This research is targeted to design innovative processes to storage sunlight into molecules by photocatalysis. Prof. Signoretto is considering both C-based and C-free energy vectors. She is focusing on CO2 photoreduction to CH4 to be used as an energy carrier and on photocatalytic conversion of ethanol, which can be biomass derived, to hydrogen. She is developing TiO2-based catalysts and studying both the development of the photocatalyst and of the process conditions.

4. Catalytic production of hydrogen from biomass

One of the research themes of Prof. Signoretto is hydrogen production from renewable sources. The research focuses on the use of Ni based heterogeneous catalysts in the steam reforming of ethanol and glycerol. In particular, the effect of both the metal phase and the support on the performance of the catalyst in terms of stability, regeneration and hydrogen productivity were investigated. A new automatic and computerized high-pressure catalytic reactor (PID) has been optimized for the investigation of this process.

5. Design of dermo-cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulates.

Prof. Signoretto works on the formulation of innovative high performant products for cosmetics and pharmaceutic through the development of sustainable protocols.

The research is focused on the synthesis and characterization of inorganic (SiO2, TiO2) and hybrid matrices (by using several organic polymers) for the formulation of drug delivery systems. The investigations about the samples preparation have been performed using not only traditional techniques such as impregnation and precipitation, but also examining closely the research on sol gel methodology and on Liquid Crystal Template method. The drug release tests have been performed in vitro simulating the physiological environment of the gastro-intestinal tract or of the skin. The attention was centered on the correlation between the physico-chemical, morphological and structural features of the carriers and the drug release kinetic.

This research activity has been honored by Wiley who identified as Hot paper work "Structure-Directing Agents for the Synthesis of TiO2-based DDS” Chem. Eur. J. 18 (2012) 10653-10660. Prof. Signoretto published a national and international patent on this topic, and in 2018 she founded the spin-off Ve Nice.

6. Formulation of multifunctional materials for bio-building applications and Cultural Heritage

By new approaches for the synthesis and dopants introduction, TiO2 based materials were optimized both for oxidation reactions of NOx with visible light and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mineralization to CO2 and H2O. Recently Prof. Signoretto expanded her research to the formulation of environmentally friendly, cheap and multi-functional materials for applications in the green building sector. For example, by coupling photocatalytically active titanium dioxide materials with thermal insulants high surface area silica it is possible to formulate multifunctional systems controlling their physicochemical, morphological and structural features.

Venezia 24 January 2021