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Gela: R&D initiatives for chemistry

Eni is committed to protecting the area of Gela, drawing on research and innovation for a more sustainable future.

Progetto Italia

The installation of two solar power plants, with a total capacity of 3.5 MW, is planned in two areas of the Gela refinery that are no longer in use. The plants will use traditional panels and take advantage of the Gela refinery’s network of facilities and utilities. The first 1 MW plant came into operation in July 2018. An additional solar-power project of around 5 MW is also in development in an area neighbouring the Nuovo Centro Oli.

Concentrated solar power pilot project

In 2019, a newly designed reflector system for concentrated solar energy was installed in the New Oil Centre. It has a capacity of 100 kW of thermal energy and will cut CO2 emissions by 45 tonnes per year. The project is being undertaken in partnership with MIT and Milan Polytechnic.

Carbon sequestration

In the second quarter of 2017, a pilot photobioreactor plant was opened near the algae treatment centre in Ragusa. The plant uses microalgae to capture CO2 produced during hydrocarbon extraction and is able to produce bio-oil (which is of higher quality and considered to be an advanced raw material) and omega-3. The trial will lead to the construction of a large-scale plant within the Gela refinery.

Waste-to-fuel pilot plant

In partnership with Syndial, Eni has constructed a pilot plant to trial its proprietary waste-to- fuel technology, which transforms the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (FORSU), produced in urban areas around Gela, into bio-oil. The pilot plant was launched in December 2018, with the first bio-oil being produced in January 2019.  

Guayule in Sicily

The guayule project is involved in furthering the experimental cultivation of different guayule genotypes. Its aim is to optimise the agronomic protocol, and the definition and certification of plant protection products in two farms belonging to the Agency for Agricultural Development (ESA) in Sicily.

Environmental rehabilitation

Trials of four innovative technologies have been developed from Eni’s research on the monitoring and decontamination of soil and groundwater. In 2016, the trial for removing organic matter found in nonaqueous phase liquids (NAPL) in groundwater was launched as a device called e-hyrec®. The positive results of the trial mean we can proceed to the implementation phase, which will have great benefits for the environment – including reduction of waste water and more efficient and faster filtration of supernatant liquids. 

LNG/CNG

The feasibility study to assess a logistics base in Gela for the distribution of LNG/CNG has been completed. Following this, an agreement was approved between Eni, MiSE, the Region of Sicily and the Municipality of Gela to carry out an in-depth technical and marketing phase that aims to verify the conditions needed to develop an LNG initiative on an industrial scale. 

Blue Sea Technologies

Gela has been identified as a hub for the management of Eni’s patented technologies and monitoring systems, namely: Clean Sea (a system for underwater environmental monitoring for use in the Mediterranean region), Rapid Cube and the Dual ROV killing system (equipment that can be used across the world to ensure the safe management of offshore wells).