Research and Development is a key element for Eni’s transformation into an integrated energy company for a low-carbon future.
More than 53% of the total spending in planned research over the next 4 years is aimed at carbon neutrality and the circular economy (about €480 million) in addition to partnerships with OGCI and Commonwealth Fusion Systems LLC (CFS). In 2018, Eni spent over €74 million on research and development for carbon neutrality.
In March 2018, in the challenge of pursuing energy production with the lowest possible carbon impact, Eni signed new agreements with CFS and the MIT with a view to boosting the industrial development of technology for the production of fusion energy, a safe, sustainable and practically inexhaustible source of energy with no emission of pollutants or long-term waste as is the case of nuclear fission. In order to better support its long-term objectives and accelerate and broaden access to emerging and potentially disruptive technologies, Eni has also adopted an Open Innovation approach pursued through its interests held in the Eni Next and OGCI companies with which it aims to: develop a network with universities, research centres (such as the MIT), start-ups, hi-tech companies, etc.; invest in venture capital initiatives and the development/deployment of particularly innovative technologies, with particular focus on the Circular Economy, Decarbonization and Renewable Energy. During 2018 Eni signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the CNR (Italian National Research Council) for the development of joint research in four areas of high scientific and strategic interest: magnetic fusion, water, agriculture and the Arctic ecosystem. The research activities are carried out in 4 joint research centres throughout the Country, with a total economic commitment of over €20 million for five years.
We promote the natural gas as an energy source in transition. This includes the construction of pilot and demo plants of the technologies developed, such as the transformation of methane into methanol, possibly with off-shore or floating plants to exploit marginal resources or otherwise sent off for flaring. Since 2015 Eni has been engaged in the Energy Transition Programme, focused on the development of low-carbon technologies with particular reference to the methanol supply chain and the use of CO2. The programme focuses on technologies downstream of natural gas production, with three main lines of research and development, dedicated to H2S and its conversion into valuable products; exploitation of natural gas and conversion of methane into liquids to facilitate transport and use; management and use of CO2 to reduce GHG emissions.
We develop low-cost technologies for production from renewable sources that can be integrated into O&G activities, with particular reference to solar energy and the integration of new renewable energy production systems into O&G operations.
Examples of Eni research results are: i) concentrated solar power (CSP) whose deployment will produce steam to power an industrial plant; ii) the development of advanced organic photovoltaics (OPV) which provides for the production, installation and monitoring of demo modules and which will also be tested to produce electricity for sensors installed in areas of industrial plants that did not have them, allowing an effective retrofitting of existing installations.
Green refinery and green chemistry
We redefine industrial cycles to direct them towards bio-based products with a lower environmental impact, in a circular economy perspective. In this context, Eni’s projects for the production of fuels from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) with two technologies are significant: