PROF. ZEEV AIZENSHTAT
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The interdisciplinary Energy Research Center of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was established in 1974, and its members have seen the pendulum swing from E(energy)to E(ecology = environment). From its earliest days the Center did not strive for solutions, but for multiple energy sources. We have also followed each and every project with its influence on the environmental impact, including the techno-economical evaluation.
The framework offered by the Research Center was chosen to serve as a focus for encouragement and cooperation between scientists from various disciplines. It affords the possibility of conducting basic research that has yielded hundreds of publications. on topics likely to supply a vital link in the advancement of applied research on alternative energy sources.
Parallel to these basic research efforts, technical examination of some scientific ideas yielded patents and industrial designs. Not all of these were adopted by companies, due to the dramatic changes in petroleum that have taken place since 1986. These ideas are still available for utilization through Yissum.
Our cooperation with the MOEI (Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure) started in 1977 on a project called "study and survey of the Israeli Bituminous Deposits". The expansion of our interest into Solar Energy brought about projects on solar "flat concentrators" photovoltaic cells and selective (doped) plastic covers for greenhouses. The combination of solar energy and geochemical studies brought about the project (ORGAST) on the Solar Lake (Sinai), which was internationally accepted as a breakthrough in this area (solar ponds). In relation to this. studies on bioenergy-biomass set up in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute, and our Faculty of Agriculture yielded special bacteria growth for specific chemicals. The bioproduction of hydrogen (Azolla) was connected with programs of hydrogen storage (physics department) as in metal hydrids and photochemical mimic of water splitting for hydrogen production.
On and off these projects have been funded by the MOEI and other funding foundations, as well as having served as teaching ground for students. The Energy Research Center has the largest organic geochemistry group involved in oil exploration, evaluation of utilization processes offered for the study of Israeli bituminous rocks, and the study of pyrolytic processes. Combustion processes are studied on the molecular level as well as technological economical evaluation.
Other plans for the future are to incorporate environmental studies into energy oriented studies, and to enter the area of energy conservation, light effective batteries, photo-electro-cells, production of hydrogen and its safe transportation (formats). as well as continued service to companies exploring for petroleum.
Parallel to all these we offer special courses for graduate and undergraduate students, and intend to continue the excellent basic research which has been the basis of our success for the past twenty years.