A team from the Institut Néel has won the 2023 European Inventor Award


The team made up of Patricia de Rango, Daniel Fruchart, Albin Chaise, Michel Jehan and Nataliya Skryabina has won the European Patent Office's 2023 European Inventor Award in the 'Research' category.

On July 4th 2023 the five members of a team associating CNRS researchers and the industrial company Jomi-Leman were rewarded with the European Inventor Award 2023 in the 'Research' category for their invention of a safe and practical way of storing hydrogen in solid form. They were also awarded the Public Prize voted for by Internet users.

The European Patent Office1 ,was founded to strengthen cooperation on patents in Europe. Each year since 2006 the EPO has rewarded inventors working individually or in teams whose innovations have provided "solutions that address some of the greatest challenges of our time" and obtained European patents.

© European Patent Office

The French team came first among over 600 candidates and has developed an atomic structure and a process for storing hydrogen in the form of a solid disc based on magnesium hydride (MgH2) and graphite. Patricia de Rango, a CNRS research professor working at the Institut Néel (CNRS) designed the disc's storage tanks and analysed the development processes and characteristics of the chemical compounds concerned.

This is a safer solution than others because the gas is more stable and does not ignite when heated. The system also makes it easier to store and transport hydrogen and consumes less energy which is of course of key importance in combating climate change. Another advantage is that the disc can be stored for years without it degrading.

All of these factors mean this solution is highly likely to respond to the demands in the sector which could thus use hydrogen to a greater extent. This gas is three times more energetic than fossil fuels but usually takes up more space. It also requires considerable energy to compress and store hydrogen in liquid form or as a very high pressure gas. The team has already marketed the invention in Europe, Australia and Japan. "The quest for green, renewable and abundant energy is one of humanity's primary concerns. Hydrogen has great potential but its storage and distribution raise questions of logistics and safety. This award sets us on a path to a decarbonised future, applying our hydrogen storage solution on an industrial scale" stated the winning team in the Office's press release.

  • 11. The European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service organisations in Europe, employing some 6300 staff. Its headquarters are in Munich and it also has a branch in The Hague and offices in Berlin, Vienna and Brussels. The EPO's centralised and uniform patent granting procedure means inventors can obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of around 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority on patent information and patent searches.