Israel is encouraging innovation in the field of alternative fuel sources. Success has far-reaching economic, security and scientific ramifications.

PM Netanyahu (Top Right) and Minister Peri (Bottom Right), during a ceremony signing an agreement for Israel to participate in the European Horizon 2020 program for research and development. (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

PM Netanyahu (top right) and Minister Peri (bottom right), during a ceremony signing an agreement for Israel to participate in the European Horizon 2020 program for research and development. (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri announced on Monday the winners of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation: Professor Michael Grätzel of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and Professor Thomas Meyer of the University of North Carolina in the U.S.

Both of these distinguished professors have been awarded the prestigious prize for technological developments that have the potential of serving as an alternative fuel for transportation.  This is the second time that this $1 Million prize, the largest in its category, has been awarded by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space and Keren Hayesod.

The winners were selected from a long list of candidates recommended for the prize by university presidents and CEOs in industry from Israel and around the world. The prize will be presented to the winners on December 3.

Encouraging Research and Development

By instating this unique prize, Israel is setting the path and encouraging the advance of research in this vital field of energy.

“We are making a major multi-year effort so that we will not be dependent on fluctuations in the price of oil. This prize gives the researchers true appreciation for their efforts,” Netanyahu said.

Peri added, “This prize symbolizes the State of Israel’s commitment to the advancement of the field of alternative fuels, which is of utmost importance to every aspect of our lives here – to Israel’s economy, security, scientific research and society.”

The world currently relies on fuel-producing nations that often use their production as leverage, and at times use the proceeds to fund terrorism.

The winners developed effective and inexpensive cell-based methods for converting solar energy into electric energy used for electric propulsion in the field of transportation.  These cells can also split water into hydrogen and oxygen, a critical stage in the development of solar-based fuels for transportation.

Hydrogen-based fuel is environmentally friendly because when it is burned; the only emission it produces is water vapor.

Humanity Advances One Step Forward

Professor Yitzchak Apeloig, Chairman of the Board of Trustees that selected the prize winners, stated:

“The basic scientific discoveries and the technological developments of the prize recipients have helped humanity advance one step closer to the moment in which it can use available and unlimited solar energy for transportation and other needs, and it can stop using diminishing and polluting fossil fuels.”

Israel’s National Fuel Alternatives program director, Eyal Rosner, declared:

“Israel has set itself an ambitious goal – to reduce the use of conventional fuel for transportation by 60 percent by the year 2025.  In order to reach this goal, it will need to use innovation, creativity and – of no less importance – a strong, intelligent policy. Israel is prepared to become the global leader in this field. We must reduce our dependence on fuel and the dependence on oil-producing nations, and consequently, we will strengthen the world economy.”

Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel