Eni Award 2019: Eni's energy research and innovation awards are presented today in the presence of the President of the Republic
The Eni Award ceremony was held today at the Palazzo del Quirinale in the presence of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, of the President of Eni Emma Marcegaglia and of the CEO of Eni Claudio Descalzi. Now in its twelfth edition, the award, established in 2007 and also known as the "Nobel of Energy", has become over the years a reference point at the international level for research in the fields of energy and environment. Eni Award aims to promote better use of energy sources and stimulate new generations of researchers in their work, reflecting Eni's importance in scientific research and innovation.
This year the Energy Transition award, one of the three major awards that recognizes the best innovations in the hydrocarbon sector for decarbonising the energy system, was awarded to James A. Dumesic of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who developed catalytic processes innovative for the conversion of biomass to fuels and chemical products, increasing the yield by optimizing the reaction conditions. Among the new processes developed, the conversion of a sugar (fructose) into a compound from which it is possible to obtain biomaterials that can be used as an alternative to common plastic materials of fossil origin.
The Energy Frontiers award, for research on renewable energy sources and energy storage, was awarded to Michael Aziz and Roy Gordon of Harvard University, who developed a new type of battery that is particularly suitable for safe storage and affordable intermittent renewable energy such as solar and wind power and subsequent supply over long periods of time. The new chemistry of batteries uses organic molecules dissolved in water consisting of abundant and economical elements capable of accumulating energy.
Finally, the Advanced Environmental Solutions award, dedicated to research on the protection of air, water and land and on the remediation of industrial sites, was assigned to Paul Chirik of Princeton University, whose successful research concerns the field of catalysis. Metals such as Iron and Cobalt can replace noble metals (Platinum, Rhodium, Palladium, etc.) used in catalytic reactions in the pharmaceutical industry and in consumer products, with positive economic and environmental consequences. Recently Chirik discovered that the iron catalysts he developed are able to recycle butadiene, paving the way for future developments in the field of mitigating the environmental impact of traditional plastics.
Eni's awards to young researchers
For the Young Talents from Africa section, established in the 2017 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Eni Award and dedicated to young talents from the African continent, the award was presented to Emmanuel Kweinor Tetteh of the Durban University of Technology and Madina Mahmoud of the American University of Cairo .
Tetteh's proposal concerns the evaluation of a process that integrates the use of innovative photo-catalysts with biological wastewater treatment systems and, at the same time, converting CO2 into fuels. Mahmoud's work is instead focused on the preparation of innovative membranes for the treatment of production water.
For the Young Researcher of the Year award, which annually awards two researchers under 30 who have obtained their research doctorates in Italian universities, the awards were presented to Alberto Pizzolato and Matteo Monai. The first, from the Polytechnic University of Turin, has devised and developed innovative computational methods for the generation of energy devices with high performance, low cost and high durability. These devices are obtained thanks to special optimization algorithms that make them capable of self-evolving in complex and efficient architectures. The second, from the University of Trieste, presented a research that consists in the development of nanostructured catalysts based on metal alloys of non-noble elements, therefore at low cost, for applications in the energy field, particularly in the conversion of biomass with fuels and chemicals.
On this occasion, Eni's Innovation Awards were presented, which rewarded research carried out by women and men working at Eni: systems to increase both safety and performance of drilling operations; the experimentation of an efficient gyroscopic converter that allows to transform the motion of the waves into energy; the development of software agents based on Machine Learning technology to optimize the production of crude oil and anticipate any malfunctions in the plants using advanced artificial intelligence and negotiation techniques.