Modern activists were not the first to sound the alarm about mankind’s dependence on fossil fuels. In the late nineteenth century, Auguste Mouchout – believing that coal was running out – unveiled the first known device that turned solar energy into mechanical steam power. Attached to a refrigerator, Mouchout’s invention astounded French society by harnessing the sun’s heat to create ice. However, it was soon dismissed as a mere curiosity; coal, and much more of it, was the order of the day.
What a difference a century makes. Today, it is universally understood that reliance on fossil fuel endangers both the environment and human health, and that the development of renewable energy sources is an urgent priority. As a small, resource-poor country with an abundant supply of both brainpower and entrepreneurial spirit, Israel has emerged as a world leader in alternative energy research, with many of its most promising discoveries emanating from laboratories at Bar-Ilan University.
Bar-Ilan is home to an outstanding group of scientists who specialize in renewable energy conversion, storage and management. BIU experts are collaborating with top industrial concerns on new materials and techniques for electric vehicles. A BIU lab recently became the first in the world to characterize an important type of surface interaction on the atomic scale – revealing data relevant to many renewable energy and battery applications. And a BIU discovery that uses advanced materials to protect overloaded electric grids from blackouts was named by General Electric Corporation as one of the top five inventions of 2010, based on its potential to change the face of the global electricity market for the greener.
Through its interdisciplinary initiatives, Bar-Ilan University is advancing the knowledge that leads to new, environmentally friendly energy sources, and is empowering sustainable economic and industrial growth in Israel and beyond.