Eni Award for Jörg Kärger and Jürgen Caro

Jörg Kärger and Jürgen Caro receive the Eni Award for advanced environmental solutions endowed with 200.000 Euro: Which potentials offer new permeation, adsorption and catalysis processes with transport-optimized porous materials? J. Kärger, retired professor for physics at Leipzig University, developed new methods for the in situ detection of diffusive mass transport in molecular sieve materials. Based on this knowledge, J. Caro, retired professor for physical chemistry at Leibniz University Hannover, synthesized transport-optimized membranes, adsorbents and catalysts. In recognition of these achievements, the two German scientists received the highly prestigious Eni Award 2020 in the category "Advanced Environmental Solutions" for their research „Mass transfer in nanoporous materials: Paradigm shift and technological exploitation“ on October 14th, 2021. The award honours pioneering work in the field of energy and environment. With prize money of 200,000 €, the Eni Award is one of the most highly endowed industrial science prizes in the world.

Nanoporous materials, especially molecular sieves like zeolites, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) or covalent organic frameworks (COFs) can be used as adsorbent or membrane for the energy-efficient gas separation or for the removal of drugs from ground water. However, the development of novel separation processes requires a substantial knowledge of molecular transport in the pore system of these materials. J. Kärger developed innovative in situ methods to follow the molecular transport in pore systems: the field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance and the IR/interference microscopy. Based on this knowledge, J. Caro synthesized novel transport-optimized zeolite, MOF and COF membranes for molecular separation.

Over the years, the Eni Award, established in 2007 and sponsored by the Italian oil and gas company Eni, has become an international benchmark for research in energy and the environment. The Award, given in three main categories, aims to promote a better use of energy and lower consumption of our raw material sources. Besides J. Kärger and J. Caro in the category „Advanced Environmental Solutions“, the Eni Award 2020 in the category „Energy Transition“ goes to D.T. Allen from the Univ. of Texas and in the category „Energy Frontiers“ to C.N.R. Rao from Centre for Materials Science Bangalore.

The prizes have been handed over on 14 October in Rome by the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella - admittedly online.

Picture: J. Kärger (left) and J. Caro (right) in front of the Heisenberg Plaque in the foyer of the Faculty for Physics and Earth Sciences“ of the Leipzig University. Here the life paths of the two awardees crossed for the first time: J. Caro was 1974 -76 the first PhD student of J. Kärger. Detailed biographies of the awardees can be found in Wikipedia or below „Mitglieder der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig“. Photo: D. Freude (Leipzig)