Chief Scientific Officer becomes hat-trick hero by winning Eric and Sheila Samson Prize

Tuesday 31 Oct 17

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Jens Nielsen
Scientific Director
DTU Biosustain

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Anders Østerby Mønsted
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DTU Biosustain
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Jens Nielsen receives the Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation. The prize is given for his contributions to developing next-generation fuel sources that are more efficient than ethanol. 

The fastest recorded time to score a hat-trick is 70 seconds, a record set by Alex Torr in a Sunday league game in 2013. October 31, 2017, Chief Scientific Officer at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark, Jens Nielsen, made a hat-trick of his own.

At an official ceremony in Tel Aviv, he received the Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation by Israel's Minister of Science, Technology and Space, Ofir Akunis. This is the third prize that Jens Nielsen receives in the same month after receiving a ENI award and a gold medal by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 

"It's overwhelming at the moment, but of course I am very proud to receive this prize. Israel has initiated a government programme to reduce their oil dependency and make a shift in the direction of using alternative fuels for transportation. Hopefully, the research made on yeast in renewable fuel and chemical production can be a driver in this development," says Jens Nielsen.

Alternative energy research
"We are not able to use for example bioethanol in trucks or for jet fuel, so we need to come up with other alternatives"
Chief Scientific Officer, Jens Nielsen

The Chief Scientific Officer and his team have developed fuel sources that are more efficient than ethanol, including a species of bacteria creating fatty acids that are more efficient fuel sources for aircraft.

"We are not able to use for example bioethanol in trucks or for jet fuel, so we need to come up with other alternatives. One of the alternatives is to use chemical molecules because they are miscible and have a high energy level compared to bioethanol," according to Jens Nielsen.

Giving up bioethanol for advanced biofuels can significantly reduce the production of greenhouse gases. Jens Nielsen's research on "Yeast in Renewable Fuel and Chemical Production” has shown that through the engineering of the metabolism of baker’s yeast, already used industrially for bioethanol production, it is possible to improve the traditional production process.

Important development

Alternative energy research has been on the rise in Israel during the last six years. Around 550 companies working with smart mobility have been established in Israel since 2011 when the government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, initiated the National Program to Reduce the Global Dependence on Oil.

Additionally, Tel Aviv is one of the world’s leading hubs for research, innovation and start-ups, offering a unique ecosystem of entrepreneurs, venture capital, world-class universities and industries.

According to CEO at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark, Bernhard Palsson, the Eric and Sheila Samson Prize recognises the importance of scientific research in the area of biosustainability.

"By making innovative research in the field of biosustainability we can push further for a paradigm shift in society and fulfill our mission of being a driver in creating a more sustainable world," says Bernhard Palsson.

It is not the first time that research conducted at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark is recognised by the Government of Israel. Scientific Director, Jay Keasling, received the Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation in 2015.

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22 NOVEMBER 2017