DECHEMA e.V.

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Press release ¤ Information de presse

May 15, 2006

ACHEMA Television Prize 2006 for Jörg Moll

Award for “The gas that never runs out” from the 3sat scientific series “hitec”

ACHEMA 2006 will see the fourth award since its inception of the ACHEMA Television Prize. This time the prize, which is endowed with € 10,000, goes to the author Jörg Moll, Berlin, for the 3sat documentary “The gas that never runs out“ („Der Sprit, der niemals ausgeht”) from the scientific TV-series “hitec” (editor: Catrin Powell, first broadcast on 18 September 2005). The award ceremony will take place on Monday, 15 May 2006, at 5.30 pm in CongressCenter Messe Frankfurt.

The jury, consisting of well-known television journalists, entrepreneurs and scientists, made its selection from a total of 28 reels submitted. The jury based its decision on the fact that this film convincingly and entertainingly puts across the importance and potential of renewable resources as a substitute for the dwindling supply and increasing costs of oil. Taking the example of biofuels, the film covers the whole innovation chain from the farmer via biotechnology to the automobile industry. However it is not only its factual appeal that has such a strong impact on the viewer, but also the concept and its technical realization.

DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V. awards this prize every three years for an outstanding television documentary produced in one of the German-speaking countries, which makes a scientific or technical topic from the fields of chemical engineering, biotechnology and environmental protection interesting and understandable to a broader public. The ACHEMA Television Prize was first offered in 1997. Previous award-winners are Martin Schneider (1997), Udo Tschimmel and Heinz von Matthey (2000), and Jörg Moll (2003). Thus the ACHEMA Television Prize will go to Jörg Moll for the second time running.

Jörg Moll (born in 1964) studied environmental technology at TU Berlin and has worked as a freelance scientific journalist since 1991. Since then he has produced over 200 magazine contributions and documentaries, mainly for the 3sat documentary series “hitec” and the scientific magazine “nano” but also for other major German TV stations. As a film author he has devoted himself for many years to exciting technology themes with a topical, societal bias. Jörg Moll was awarded the ACHEMA Television Prize in 2003 for his documentary “Modern alchemy – materials of the future”. He also won the German Business Film Prize (1997, 1998 and 2001) and in the year 2002 the first prize at the “Ekotop Festival” in Bratislava.

“The gas that never runs out”

This is every driver’s dream when their thoughts turn to their own vehicle. In the long term, however, it touches on a much more important problem, affecting not only the individual driver but the whole of industry and indeed society. What will happen when we actually do run out of oil either because the oil-producing states turn off the tap, or the price of oil becomes prohibitive or the oil wells simply dry up? It is high time to be thinking of alternatives, and in the development laboratories the world over solutions are, in fact, being sought.

In Germany and Europe it has been possible to tank plant fuel for some time. The oil produced from rape is processed and marketed as biodiesel. However this solution has a downside: the environmental assessment of biodiesel is negative. Scientists, oil companies and even car manufacturers are therefore backing a completely new technology which utilizes not only the fruit of a specific plant, but the whole plant itself. The name of this technology? – biomass to liquid, or BTL. Currently several institutes are researching which plants best suit which technical processes.

It is crucial to manage with a lower energy input. For what can be gained by putting more energy into a process than one subsequently gets out of it in the form of fuel? According to the latest prognoses 20 to 25 % of fuels could be produced from renewable resources in Germany; in Europe even up to 40% is said to be feasible – a tremendous market potential.

Inspired by research in the field of BTL fuels, Mercedes and VW are currently investigating combustion engines which combine the advantages of petrol and diesel engines, are very economical and yet clean. These engines are sometimes called “Diesottos” from the names of Rudolph Diesel and Nikolaus Otto, the two German inventors of the diesel and four-stroke Otto-cycle petrol engines respectively. They require designer gas, but this is well within the scope of BTL processes. In addition to the many ideas to help mankind remain mobile in the future, the novel fuel and engine concepts hatched in German research laboratories are a further important strategy. The combustion engine has often been declared dead, but regenerative fuels may well prove to give it a new lease of life. “hitec” author Jörg Moll was the first reporter to be given a chance to take a look at one such research laboratory.

 

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