Scientists Can Win One Million Dollars In Israel For Developing Oil Substitutes

2nd annual Eric and Sheila Samson Israel’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation will close its nomination process on April 30th.


A $1 million prize given by The Prime Minister’s office in an annual contest, which seeks alternatives for fossil fuels  is now underway.  It is given in conjunction with the Science and Technology Ministry and Keren Hayesod- UIA.

The award is based on global innovation and technological breakthrough in the field of alternative fuels. This year’s  recipient will be revealed in December at The Fuels Choices Summit in Tel Aviv.  

The contest is part of Israel’s National Sustainable Energy and Water ProgramThe nominees must be engaged in paradigm shifting research or technology development worthy of widespread recognition  and may be citizens of any country.

Eric Samson, who endowed the prize, is a self made steel baron from South Africa, who was the founder and executive chairman of  Macsteel Holdings. He moved to Israel in 2009 with his wife Sheila. The Samsons are highly devoted and committed to the State of Israel and the mission of Keren Hayesod, and their major charitable undertakings enable the advancement of important national and international initiatives.

In 2010 they donated $10 million to establish a leadership academy at the Cleveland Clinic, a non profit hospital and academic medical center.  The Samsons received the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award in 2012.

In a statement, Israel’s Science and Technology Minister, Yaakov Peri, said, “Israel will be a hub of knowledge and practice in the field of oil substitutes.” He also said that, “Oil is a political tool found in the hands of our greatest enemies.”

Last year the prize went to George A. Olah a Nobel Prize Laureate and G.K. Surya Prakash, both professors of chemistry at the University of Southern California.  They received the prize for their research on developing a methanol based economy.

Methanol is a wood based alcohol which can be used as an alternative fuel. Their research envisioned a future in which methanol would replace fossil fuels.

The Israeli government hopes to encourage similar breakthroughs with this year’s prize.

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