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Multi-million pound project to improve sustainability and efficiency of Russian oil industry is given green light

21 February 2012

A £9.3 million international consortium to make oil refining in Russia more efficient and environmentally sustainable has been given the green light this week.

The Skolkovo Foundation has given official approval for the establishment of a Center of Applied Research on Energy efficient Heat Exchange and Catalysis (Project “UNIHEAT”), involving Imperial College London, the Boreskov Institute of Catalysis and BP. Researchers at the Center will run the UNIHEAT project, which will focus on increasing energy efficiency and reducing heat loss in oil refining by up to 15% by improving refining operations, enhancing oil production processes, and reducing CO₂ emissions. The Center will be funded by the Skolkovo Foundation and BP Russia.

Mr Viktor Vekselberg, President of the Skolkovo Foundation, said: “It is hard to imagine a more vivid example of efficient cooperation between business and science than the Center of applied research that we are establishing. This success is possible because of a close cooperation of global leaders in research on heat exchange and catalysis processes – Imperial College London and Boreskov Institute of Catalysis – with active involvement from British Petroleum. I am sure that we will be able to evaluate the results of the Center in the not too distant future, which may lead to a significant decrease of energy losses in oil and gas refining.”

Mr David Peattie, Head of BP Russia, added: “We are delighted to be involved with this very important research programme. Improving heat exchange technology is really important for the environmental efficiency of the oil processing industry. We are very pleased to team up with Skolkovo to fund Boreskov and Imperial, two of the world’s leading research institutes in this key research programme.”

Professor Sandro Macchietto, Chair of the UNIHEAT Steering Committee and Joint Project Director, from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, said: “Imperial has a strong track record of working with industry around the world to find innovative solutions to make the refining process more efficient and sustain able. This is one of the first projects of this kind in Russia to kick off. We hope it will lead to real efficiencies in the sector and help us to make the refining process as environmentally friendly as possible.”

The Center of Applied Research is based on UNICAT Ltd. - a spin-off innovation company that was founded by the Boreskov Institute of Catalysis and Novosibirsk State University and approved as a resident of Skolkovo innovation ecosystem.

Mr Valentin Parmon, Boreskov Institute of Catalysis director, concluded: "We believe that combining our experience in the development and utilization of catalysts and catalytic processes with Imperial’s expertise in chemical technologies will lead to fundamentally new approaches in advancing energy efficient technologies for processing carbon fo ssil fuels. The agreement, initiated by the Skolkovo Foundation, is setting an extremely important example (including for Russian companies) by supporting the fundamental research and innovation of leading international corporations."

Mr Paul Docx, CEO of Imperial Consultants and Coordinator of the UNIHEAT Industry Engagement Programme, said: “From the very outset of the project, Imperial Consultants will be facilitating interactions between Russian businesses and researchers. This unique industrial engagement programme, whereby knowledge transfer activities are run in parallel to research, will ensure that advances in oil refining processes have immediate impact.”

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