Expo 2021 Dubai got underway on 1 October 2021, with Eni as Official Platinum Sponsor of theItalian Pavilion. The event offered a prime opportunity for our company to present our strategy for decarbonization through innovation across the supply chain.
Postponed by a year due to the pandemic, the first world’s fair to be held in an Arab country took place in the United Arab Emirates from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2022. The official theme of the first world fair held in an Arab country, postponed from last year due to the pandemic, is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. This is a nod to both the connections between people and ideas and the opportunity to create partnerships and shape the world of tomorrow. Italy has chosen to share the best of its culture and talent through the ideal of beauty.
We exhibited the Braiding the future installation at Expo 2020 Dubai, in an 85 square metre space in the Italian Pavilion. It focused on new ways of producing energy at lower-environmental impact, especially from biological materials. The project was designed by the architectural and innovation firm CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota and gave an artistic interpretation of the intensified CO₂ biofixation process that was developed in our Research Centre for Renewable Energies and the Environment labs in Novara.
The installation stood near the main entrance to the exhibition space and was suspended at full height over a body of water. It recreated microalgae cultivation using a spectacular cascade of up to 20 metre long technological vines. Through each of the LED lit lianas flowed the microalgae: the see-through circuit therefore became a spectacular exhibition of microalgae biologic process and growth in the photobioreactor where, feeding on CO₂, these unicellular organisms produce high-value nutritional compounds and more. The multilayer photobioreactor pilot plant was also on display, created from Eni’s collaboration with the Turin Polytechnic and a network of Italian start-ups.
At Expo 2020 Dubai, we talked about the importance of innovation to our decarbonization strategy for the entire energy supply chain, from Upstream to Downstream operations. Scientific research and technological innovation were at the centre of our chosen theme for the event: ‘Innovation means making things possible’. They have always been a part of our company's DNA, making us recognisable all over the world.
At the Expo, the Italy Pavilion featured a multi-purpose space and a programme of events and initiatives aimed at relaunching the image of our country abroad. These were also designed to strengthen Italy's relations not only with the United Arab Emirates, but with the other countries attending. The pavilion hosted a series of initiatives and events including an innovation hub and an area to design the future based on dialogue and active collaboration between peoples and nations. This incorporated the values of self-determination, competition, sustainability, innovation and development inspired by the 17 SDGs of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The chosen theme, ‘Beauty unites people’, celebrated bringing people together by means of a series of initiatives highlighting the values, skills and excellence found in Italy. This is a country that makes creativity, biodiversity and the ability to innovate a source of growth, alongside development of knowledge, cultures and lifestyles.
We, along with other global energy companies, are facing an ambitious challenge: to produce energy with the lowest environmental impact. To achieve this, we have chosen to invest even more in scientific and technological research, an area in which 1,500 people at Eni currently work, 50 pilot plants operate, and collaborations with over 70 universities and research centres are underway.
Our commitment to decarbonization and the energy transition is also reflected in partnerships with national and international leaders in R&D, including Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with whom we collaborate to further the industrial development of magnetic confinement fusion: a safe, sustainable, practically inexhaustible source of energy that produces no pollutants or long-term waste.
In Italy, together with the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), we are developing a large science/technology centre on DTT (Divertor Tokamak Test) fusion.
To increase access to high-impact emerging technologies, we have also adopted an Open Innovation approach through Eni Next and with OGCI-Climate Investments.
At the same time, we are continuing to invest in venture capital initiatives and the development and deployment of disruptive technologies, with a focus on circular economy, decarbonization and renewable energy.
Finding new ways to reuse carbon dioxide in industrial processes is of strategic importance if we are to reduce climate-changing gas emissions. Biofixation technology also uses the circular economy approach, which is part of our business model. This is the same approach that underpins other innovations created in Eni's laboratories, technologies that allow processes to be optimised by transforming chemical substances, biomass and waste into sustainable resources. Such technologies include Ecofining™, which we use to produce advanced HVO biofuel from raw materials of biological origin in our biorefineries in Venice and Gela. And Waste to Fuel, a system we are also developing at our biorefineries, which makes it possible to obtain bio-oil from the Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste (OFMSW). But also CCS and CCU, the repurposing of sulphur or the conversion of gas and CO₂ into methanol.
CO₂ biofixation: the circular nature of algae
The innovative technology for fixing CO₂ through microalgae cultivation is an emissions reduction solution that follows the principles of the circular economy.
Participation in Expo 2020 Dubai allowed Italy to strengthen its role in the Mediterranean, reinforcing the intercultural relationship between Europe and the Middle East. At Eni, we have been active in the Middle East for three years, with activities ranging from exploration to development and refining, but our historical presence in the region dates back to the 1950s, when Enrico Mattei began the first collaborations with oil-producing countries. Today, in addition to being a global leader in Oil & Gas, the region is also establishing itself in the field of renewables and green technological innovation.
In particular,in light of the partnership with ADNOC, since 2019 we have expanded and diversified our portfolio of refining and trading activities in the United Arab Emirates, while in 2020 we launched a partnership for research into the creation of advanced low-carbon technological solutions aimed at CO2reduction, capture, use or storage.
Countries in the region where we are already engaged
There are six countries in the Middle East where we have ongoing regional business, promoting fair, responsible and sustainable industrialisation.
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