• Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

Research, Eni Award assigned: also the best sustainable business ideas were awarded

Byeditorial

Oct 14, 2021

The Eni Award ceremony was held today at the Palazzo del Quirinale, in the presence of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, the President of Eni Lucia Calvosa and the CEO of Eni Claudio Descalzi. Now in its thirteenth edition this year, the award also known as the ‘Nobel of Energy’, is considered an international reference point for research in the fields of energy and the environment and testifies to the importance that scientific research and innovation have for Eni. The Award was conceived by Eni in 1987 and in 2008 it evolved into the current version of the Eni Award. Since the birth of the award, the Scientific Commission, which evaluates the research presented, is made up of scientists belonging to the most advanced research institutes in the world and over the years has seen the participation of 6 Nobel Laureates. Since the establishment of the Eni Award in 2008, there have been more than ten thousand nominations. This year’s edition recorded a number of applications exceeding 500. Starting this year, Eni, through Joule, its School for Business, has established a further recognition for teams, university spin-offs, startups and aimed at favoring the application, enhancement and transfer of technologies while promoting the creation of an ecosystem of sustainable innovation. T. Allen of the University of Texas, Austin, for research Measuring and Reducing Methane Emissions in the Natural Gas Value Chain. Prof. Allen tackled the very current problem of fugitive emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential much higher than CO2, in the production and transport phases of natural gas, with the aim of locating the emission points and estimate the amount. This is of vital importance today, considering that natural gas, of which methane is the main constituent, is a key energy source in the current energy transition phase. Prof. Allen contributed to this with the development of new tools capable of estimating fugitive emissions with a spatial (single sites) and temporal (minutes) resolution such as to allow the construction of increasingly complete and accurate inventories, necessary to be able to plan targeted mitigation interventions The Frontiere dell’Energia award, for research on renewable sources and energy storage, was awarded to Chintamani Nages Ramachandra Rao, of the International Center for Materials Science, Bangalore, for solar photochemistry research and thermal splitting of water using Boron-Carbo-Nitrides (Bcn), Molybdenum Sulfide (MoS2) and other materials to produce green hydrogen, and energy devices based on layered materials, for applications in the energy field and in the production of hydrogen green. The same materials, or related materials, have also shown to have advantageous properties in the realization of systems for the storage of hydrogen and supercapacitors with high specific power and increased number of charge-discharge cycles. The latter are energy storage devices which, like batteries, will increasingly enter energy systems based on renewable sources. was awarded to Jürgen Caro and Jörg Kärger, of the Universities of Hannover and Leipzig respectively, for their studies, developed in the research Mass transfer in nanoporous materials: paradigm shift and technological use for advanced environmental solutions and which led to the development of techniques of microimaging for the in situ observation of diffusive flows of molecules in nano-porous materials. These techniques have been applied to study in detail the diffusion in metallorganic membranes (MOF – Metal Organic Framework) and in covalent-organic structure (COF – Covalent Organic Framework). These studies have led to the creation of new materials, used in pioneering membrane catalytic reactors, capable of improving the operating conditions in numerous applications involving separation processes. These materials have shown excellent water permeability and good selectivity towards hydrophilic substances, specifically dyes. The simplicity of synthesis, combined with the possibility of preparing membranes with the specific characteristics desired, is very promising in the field of water nanofiltration.The Young Talents from Africa section, established in 2017 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Eni Award and dedicated to young people talents from the African Continent, in this edition, confers three prizes, assigned to Alaa Abbas and Ahmed Mohamed Ismail Tarek, The American University in Cairo, Egypt, and Djalila Ben Bouchta, Cairo University, Egypt. The winners will receive a scholarship that will allow them to attend PhD courses at the Polytechnic of Turin and the “Federico II” University of Naples to deepen and develop their innovative ideas. Abbas’s proposal concerns the improvement of wastewater treatment and energy production using anodes consisting of carbon / metal oxide nanostructures in microbial fuel cells. Tarek will develop a computational model to improve electronic waste management. Ben Bouchta’s proposal concerns a multidisciplinary approach to the provision of energy services to enable productive use of energy for female entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa. Anno, which rewards two researchers under 30 who have obtained their PhDs from Italian universities, the awards were assigned to Matteo Morciano and Francesca De Falco. Morciano, student of the Polytechnic of Turin, in the thesis Solar energy technologies for passive and low cost desalination of water, has developed innovative technologies for the passive production of drinking water using solar energy. In particular, he has developed an economic and ecological system for desalination of water, a possible solution to the water crisis. De Falco, from the University of Naples – Federico II, in his thesis Microplastic pollution from synthetic fabrics: quantitative assessment and mitigation strategies, conducted a study on an environmental problem of considerable importance such as pollution from microplastics, and , in particular, on the impact of synthetic fibers used in fabrics, identifying the main release mechanisms of these emerging micropollutants. For the Eni Innovation Award section, which elects the most innovative projects developed by Eni researchers and technical experts, awarded: Roberto Millini, Michela Belletta and Giuseppe Bellussi for the patent Process for the mineralization of CO2 with natural mineral phases and the use of these products in the formulation of cements. Giovanna Carpani, Ilaria Pietrini for the e-limina® technological solution, which connects the isotopic and microbiological investigation for the analysis of natural biodegradation of contaminated sites (natural attenuation). Filomena Castaldo, Orazio Lo Chiano, Alessandro Riva for the technological solution Intensified CO2 biofixation, which is based on the bio-fixation of CO2 by microalgae, in photo-bioreactors illuminated with an artificial light suitable for their photosynthesis. Special mention “Eni Joule for Entrepreneurship ”to the teams: Bi-rex, an early stage startup (TRL 4) which has developed a green process for the production of biopolymers (tree-free cellulose and chitin). An important example of female entrepreneurship, it was founded by two researchers from the Politecnico di Milano and is in the process of industrialization thanks to the support of a business angel. Rewarded by Joule as part of the 2020 edition of “StartCup Lombardia”, starting from January 2021, she received a personalized incubation path by Polihub and with the methodological support of Joule.ResourSEAs, a startup with an intermediate level of maturity ( TRL 6), deals with services for the circular enhancement of saline solutions, with mineral recovery and energy production. Born as a spin off of the University of Palermo (UniPa), with a patent already filed, it has entered the Joule acceleration path and is carrying out experiments with the support of Eni R&D. The team is made up of highly specialized professors and researchers in Stem disciplines (chemistry, physics, engineering) .Reset (Renewable Energy Solutions Environmental Technology), with a very high level of maturity (TRL 9) is now an SME based in Rieti and deals with the combined production of electrical and thermal energy through biomass gasification. Founded in 2015 by four founders, it now has about 70 employees. Selected by Joule in Elis’s Open Italy 2020 program, she has just completed an experimentation path at Eni plants.