Air Liquide launches a scientific contest on “Essential Small Molecules”

December 10, 2015

Essential Small Molecules such as O2, N2, H2 and CO21 embody Air Liquide’s scientific territory. They have an extremely wide variety of physical and chemical properties which make them essential to life, matter and energy. Reinforcing its focus on science for accelerating innovation, Air Liquide launches an annual “Air Liquide Essential Molecules Challenge”.

The first Air Liquide Essential Molecules Challenge is open to academic teams, private Research & Development, start-up companies, private or public institutes. They are invited to submit, from the beginning of January 2016, proposals for scientific breakthroughs on three topics related to societal and environmental challenges:

  1. “Sunny H2 in a bottle”: producing hydrogen from water by using solar energy,
  2. “Small Molecules in my pocket”: finding sponge materials for high density storage and safe supply of gases,
  3. “CO2, give back your O2”: producing O2 and CO (carbon monoxide) from CO2 in a sustainable way.

An Air Liquide Scientific Award of € 50,000 will be granted to each winner in September 2016 and Air Liquide will further fund up to € 1.5 million in joint collaborations with the winners to mature their scientific proposals into market technologies.

Air Liquide’s innovation approach combines science, technologies and new usages of its customers and patients. Science is supported by this Essential Molecules Challenge as well as by the recent creation of Air Liquide’s m-Lab (molecules-Lab), an open scientific community dedicated to Essential Small Molecules.

François Darchis, member of the Executive Committee, supervising Innovation, commented: The development of Air Liquide activities has, from the very beginning, been inspired and made possible by scientific breakthroughs allowing new production, packaging and usages of Essential Small Molecules. Leveraging science inside the company, as well as with our customers and partners, will allow us to open new markets and thus, accelerate innovation and growth”.

1 O2: oxygen, N2: nitrogen, H2: hydrogen, CO2: carbon dioxide
2 He: helium


  • €278 million innovation expenses in 2014
  • +300 new patents filed in 2014
  • 6,200 employees contribute to innovation around the world, mostly in three entities: Research & Development, advanced Business & Technologies (aB&T), and Engineering and Construction (Global E&C Solutions). They explore new territories, business models, technologies and services, and they support innovation from the idea to market maturity.

Air Liquide’s Essential Small Molecules

Essential Small Molecules are essential for life, matter and energy.
O2, N2 and CO2 are key components in virtually all natural, biological and biogeochemical cycles. H2 and CO allow the creation and transformation of matter. O2, H2 and He2 are used for the production, storage and conversion of energy.

For more information about the Air Liquide Essential Molecules Challenge: click here