Judges who have won Nobel Prizes. Winners who will go on to win Nobel Prizes. Big scientific discoveries. Recognition from the highest institutional echelons. An award ceremony at the Quirinal Palace, attended by the president of Italy. In little more than 10 years, the Eni Award has become so much more than just a company prize. Its story encompasses five continents and dozens of researchers' lives. It was created in 2007, so it is a fairly young award. Nonetheless, its date has already become a fixture in the world of research into fuel, chemicals, the environment, health, gas, renewables, security, exploration and refining.
You might call it the Nobel Prize in Energy, given that the famous Swedish award does not have a category for energy, and the Eni Award has become an international landmark in energy innovation in just over 10 years. Its story begins in 2007, when it became part of Eni's technological master plan, replacing the Eni-Italgas award for improving use of energy sources, promoting science and technology with environmental applications, and making the most of the new generations of researchers.
Over the years, the award has evolved to embrace areas environmental remediation, hydrocarbons and renewable energy, with one eye on developing countries and the ideas of young students and Eni people. The Eni Award is bestowed every year and now involves some of the most important scientific institutions in the world, along with Eni's research centres.
Eni Award categories
- Energy Transition Award: research into innovative use of hydrocarbons and energy efficiency as a bridge to decarbonization of the energy system.
- Energy Frontiers Award: technological innovation in the fields of renewable energy sources and energy storage, as part of decarbonization of the energy system and access to energy in developing countries.
- Advanced Environmental Solutions Award: research and development of technologies in the field of environmental remediation and protection.
- Young Researcher of the Year Award: two awards for graduates of Italian universities who have written dissertations for research doctorates on preventing water, soil or atmospheric pollution, recovery and reuse of disused industrial sites, technological innovation in the fields of renewable sources and energy storage, or innovative use of hydrocarbons as a bridge to decarbonization of the energy system.
- Research Debut: Young Talents from Africa: two awards for graduates from African countries who have written dissertations or done master's courses at Italian universities on preventing water, soil or atmospheric pollution, recovery and reuse of disused industrial sites, technological innovation in the fields of renewable sources and energy storage, or innovative use of hydrocarbons as a bridge to decarbonization of the energy system. This category was created in 2017 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the award.
- Recognition of Innovation at Eni (for men and women working at Eni): an award for good ideas, based on the potential for innovation they produce, protected by requests for patents. Plus two prizes for the best technological innovations by Eni researchers.
- The scientific commission that assesses applications and bestows the award is made up of scientists from the greatest research institutes in the world. It has counted among its ranks the American Robert Richardson, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1996 and the late Briton Sir Harold Kroto, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996.
In 2008 applications numbered 167 and rose to 1,253 in 2014. The average is about 600 applications a year, so we have decided to narrow the admission criteria to lower the number and raise the quality.
Overall, in the last decade 7,559 researchers have applied, 1,795 of them in the hydrocarbon sector, 2,897 in renewables, 2,700 in environmental protection. This remarkable number includes the cream of the research world, showing their enthusiasm for innovative research and attention to the crucial problem of energy and the environment.
Awards: a few case studies
Over the last decade some big names have received the award. In 2012, for example, the Canadian Barbara Sherwood Lollar was chosen for her work on applying the geochemistry of stable isotopes to protecting ground water and other environmental resources. Incidentally, there is a significant female presence among the Eni Award winners, seven out of 20 of whom are women.
In 2013 Italian researcher Roberto Danovaro was awarded for his studies into the marine environment and its role in the CO2 cycle. Shortly after his victory, professor Danovaro became famous around the world, and was made president of the Anton Dohrn geological station in Naples, a national institute of international importance. Emiliano Mutti, one of the fathers of modern geology, is also an Eni Award winner.
Judging the Young Researcher of the Year category for the Eni Award 2018 were Gianluca Longoni, from the University of Milano-Bicocca, and Michele De Bastiani, from the University of Padua and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia.
Longoni's research will be the foundation of the next generation of batteries. De Bastiani's work addressed the stability of third-generation solar cells.
The Eni Award ceremony is held at the Quirinal Palace in Rome and attended by the Italian president and the CEO of Eni. Three internal research teams were recognised for their particular innovation and the importance of their results to our business.
2020 Eni Award announcement
The competition in 2020 will have three categories (Advanced Environmental Solutions, Energy Frontiers and Energy Transition), plus two Young Researcher of the Year awards, four Research Debut: Young Talents from Africa awards and a further category for our researchers. Each of these involves an award and a special announcement. The general rules for the competition are outlined in "Rules".