Winners from the Air Liquide Scientific Challenge Edition 3

NineSigma is very proud to have partnered with Air Liquide for our third Scientific  Challenge together. It has been an amazing experience to have developed three innovative topics on the decarbonization of industrial ecosystems for Air Liquide and we are ready to share the winners with you.   

The Air Liquide Scientific Challenge Edition 3 aimed at decarbonizing the industrial ecosystems by addressing 3 Topics: 

  • Topic 1: Data sharing for decarbonization: How to leverage confidential data from different stakeholders to meet shared sustainability targets? 
  • Topic 2: Energy storage using Essential Small Molecules: How to store and reuse energy using our small molecules or processes to achieve net-zero? 
  • Topic 3: Electric Heating for H2 production: How to decarbonize the catalytic Steam Methane Reforming reaction by electric-based heating? 

NineSigma received 119 proposals from 29 countries. Air Liquide has awarded three winners a prize of €50,000 and a 3-year partnership to develop their innovative proposals and to transform them into market-ready technologies. Funding up to €1 million is available for each collaboration. 

Topic 1 winner: A game-theoretic privacy-preserving distributed optimization algorithm using ADMM and random perturbation | Purdue University, USA Can Li  
The sharing of data between the different stakeholders of an industrial basin using the same utilities connected by physical networks is crucial to meet shared sustainability targets. Can Li’s proposal focuses on the development of algorithms facilitating data sharing, ensuring transparency as well as data privacy and security, to achieve industrial optimizations and reduce CO2 emissions. 

Topic 2 winner: Energy storage using Essential Small Molecules – Cyclic device for continuous CO2 capture and conversion into CH4 |University of Porto, PortugalLuis Miguel Madeira  
Renewable energies are intermittent by nature. To ensure their widespread adoption and contribute to the decarbonization of the energy sector, it is essential to develop new ways of storing and reusing electricity, using Essential Small Molecules. Luis Miguel Madeira’s project focuses on a new technology development based on an innovative cyclic system, to produce methane (CH4) as an energy carrier, from industrial captured CO2 and renewable hydrogen (H2). 

Topic 3 winner: Electric heating for H2 production| Politecnico di Milano, Italy Enrico Tronconi 
One way of decarbonizing hydrogen production would be to electrify the heat generation required for steam-methane reforming. Yet achieving the reaction temperature (800°C) with electric power is a challenge. Enrico Tronconi’s proposal consists in a new technological solution enabling an efficient electrified Steam Methane Reforming process. Based on a new conductive device harnessing the resistive heating, this solution helps reduce the energy consumption and the CO2 emissions of the hydrogen production process. 

Armelle Levieux, member of Air Liquide’s Executive Committee and Vice President of Innovation, stated: 

“The Air Liquide Scientific Challenge has generated strong interest from the worldwide scientific community. This illustrates the relevance of our open innovation approach. Previous editions led to fruitful collaborations with our academic partners, materializing in scientific publications, patents and even the creation of start-ups. This new edition will contribute to accelerating the development of pioneering technologies to promote progress and the transition to a low-carbon society, in line with Air Liquide’s ADVANCE strategic plan.” 


Visit the challenge website to learn more about it and get inspired: 

About NineSigma: A global leader in the innovation space with over 20 years of experience, NineSigma explore new scientific, technology and commercial space, build new ecosystems of partners, and discover new business opportunities. We accelerate innovation and a sustainable future by: 

  • Helping you understand the external environment and make strategic decisions 
  • Connecting you to new partners, start-ups, researchers, suppliers, manufacturers 
  • Discovering and testing new business ideas in B2B markets. 

For more information on this challenge or on how you want to launch your own challenge, please reach out to 


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