Jun 29, 2022
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 Hydrogen-based drones, fuel cells to create green energy, a green wall, sodium-based batteries and more will be developed at a cost of hundreds of millions of shekels over the coming decade as Bar-Ilan University (BIU) in Ramat Gan launches a major research center for energy, sustainability and the environment. The money will go for research and environmental projects not only in Israel but also around the world. 

BIU University president Prof. Arie Zaban declared at the ceremony that 

“energy and sustainability are intertwined. If we don’t solve the energy problem, we won’t be able to operate in a sustainable environment. These are two issues that have a decisive impact on the future of humanity, and we’re now addressing them.” 

(left to right): Prof. Lior Elbaz, who is developing hydrogen-based technology that powers drones, Bar-Ilan Council of Trustees chairman Shlomo Zohar, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, Bar-Ilan President Prof. Arie Zaban and CEO Zohar Yinon (Courtesy: Bar-Ilan University)

The ceremony was attended by Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, who said: “As David Ben-Gurion put it, security is energy. We need a combination of different types of energy, and the crisis in Europe shows that we can’t give up on any of them at the moment. We must lead the world of energy, and an institute like the one inaugurated at Bar-Ilan is the place from which results will emerge. I welcome and hope for BIU cooperation with the Energy Ministry, because the connection among regulators, academia and those in the field is what will march the State of Israel forward.”

The Center for Energy and Sustainability includes 55 research groups and will focus on research and development of renewable energy from the early stages to active technologies. In addition, the center will work to cultivate entrepreneurs and researchers who are tomorrow’s potential leaders of the energy industry in Israel.

The research center established on campus will advise, initiate and promote research while building collaborations with industry. Networks, artificial intelligence, storage, hydrogen, current stability and high voltage are some of the topics that will be researched by BIU experts. The center employs leading researchers from Israel and abroad, in collaboration with government ministries, entrepreneurs, industrial companies in the fields of science and technology, as well as experts in the fields of regulation, the environment, climate, sustainability and education.

Alongside the research center, the Multidisciplinary School for Sustainability and the Environment will be the university’s teaching center that will train the next generation of experts in these fields. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of applicants for degrees in environmental-related fields at the various educational institutions.

The multidisciplinary school will unite all of the university’s programs for environmental studies under one roof, initiate and support the development of new programs and majors and develop innovative teaching methods. In addition, it will run courses taught in a hybrid or online manner open to students from all academic disciplines on campus.

Senior officials from the Israel Electric Company (IEC) and the Doral Group also spoke at the inaugural event.  IEC vice president of strategy Amir Livne said: “Just as during COVID-19, we are faced with an existential need that requires mobilization of the minds. This cannot be achieved without research and academia, and we have the best minds in the world here to meet this challenge.”

Roee Furman, managing director of Doral Energy-Tech Ventures (the Doral Group’s innovation and investment arm) added: “We are pleased and excited to collaborate with researchers at Bar-Ilan University, who are world leaders in the development of the energy and climate technologies of the future. We are facing a decade of opportunities for real change in the fight against the climate crisis, and we at Doral are proud to be a pioneering force in funding and supporting applied research that will place Israel at the forefront in the war on global warming.”