Organic Geochemistry PhD.
Sciences of the Earth and the Universe HDR
Responsible oil and gas
Against the backdrop of the accelerating energy transition, the oil industry and related sectors need to continue to meet sustained demand, while significantly reducing their environmental footprint and energy consumption. IFPEN develops eco-efficient and flexible processes for the production of fuel and chemical intermediates meeting the strictest standards. To make better use of reserves, IFPEN also proposes increasingly efficient and cleaner, cutting-edge technologies for oil and gas exploration and production.
- Gas treatment
- Basins and reservoirs modeling and simulation
- Enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
- Risers and flow lines
- Recognized expertise in the field of catalysis
- Integration in a public-private partnership ecosystem via the Axel’One collaborative innovation platform
- The acceleration in product development thanks to IFPEN’s high-throughput experimentation (HTE) units, making it possible to test several catalysts in a variety of operating conditions with different feeds.
- Axens, a dedicated subsidiary for the marketing of our technologies, within the framework of a long-term R&I partnership since 2001
The impact of fuels
IFPEN has expertise in fuel technologies (conventional and alternative) and combustion systems adapted to each fuel, enabling it to offer a comprehensive range of services, particularly the qualification of processes: economic and environmental impact, characteristics and functional properties for land, aviation and maritime applications.
IFPEN develops eco-efficient technological solutions to:
• purify gasoline cuts and adapt them to regional challenges
• foster the coupling of refining with petrochemicals, using oil feed conversion flows to improve the competitiveness of refining sites and accompany their adaptation to an evolving market.
Gasoline hydrodesulfurization processes and catalysts
IFPEN's R&I teams are developing new products and optimizing existing technological solutions to accompany the roll-out of increasingly stringent specifications in terms of air quality.
“A new Prime-G+ gasoline hydrodesulfurization process has been developed to adapt it to the expectations of the two principal markets:
- the USA, where the tightening-up of specifications for sulfur (US Tier 3 standard in 2020) means refining facilities need to be remodeled. Our process design makes it possible to limit the investments required to adapt existing units,
- Asia, and particularly China, where compliance with new standards goes hand in hand with a major constraint with respect to fuel octane levels. Here too, our process addresses this specific need, since it offers maximum octane retention while eliminating sulfur impurities."
Antoine Fécant, chef de projet, IFPEN
In 2021, 300 Prime-G+® units are being operated around the world, producing ultra-low sulfur gasoline meeting the strictest environmental regulations.
Innovative catalytic reforming catalysts and processes
The technologies developed are aimed at improving the quality of fuels to make their use more efficient. Catalytic reforming is an essential step to convert light cuts from crude oil into fuel formulations. The high-performance catalysts in Axens’ Symphony® range, developed as a result of IFPEN’s research activities, are used to produce high-octane gasoline. Their superior performance leads to enhanced process efficiency and hydrothermal stability, extending their lifespan.
Symphony®: 4 types of catalysts and more than 170 references A success that is based on the implementation of new concepts in the formulation of the catalyst supports and active phases.
IFPEN develops processes and catalysts to produce more environmentally-friendly fuels for the road transport and aviation sectors in order to improve air quality and proposes concrete solutions in the fields of:
• diesel hydrodesulfurization
• the hydrocracking of heavy cuts
Hydrotreating catalysts and processe
In order to produce cleaner fuels while reducing the environmental impact of processes, the refining industry needs access to ever more efficient catalysts. This constant optimization is made possible through innovation in terms of materials and the active phases of heterogeneous catalysts, areas that have been at the heart of progress made over the last 20 years or so.
This innovation is hinged around:
- theoretical research, aimed at gaining a better understanding of and rationalizing the fundamental concepts governing catalyst reactivity,
- as well as experimental approaches at the cutting-edge of analysis, catalysis and process experimentation technologies.
This is the type of approach that enabled IFPEN to develop the process for the production of hydroprocessing catalysts containing additives, Impulse® catalysts (hydrotreatment of diesel, hydrocracking of vacuum distillates), in partnership with TotalEnergies and Axens.
The major steps in the design of a new catalyst:
Hydrocracking process simulator
In order to operate processes with the best compromise between performance, production costs and environmental impact, it is vital to have access to simulators making it possible to describe and predict industrial behaviors.
“The new So’Crack simulator makes it possible to predict the performance of a hydrocracking process with a view to proposing the best possible catalyst chain. We can now count on a marked improvement in performance predictions, making it possible to ramp up the implementation of the process and propose innovative catalyst chains that fully exploit the synergies of the different catalytic functions. This result was made possible thanks to the efforts of our researchers in the fields of advanced analysis, process modeling and applied mathematics.”
Emmanuelle Guillon, project manager, IFPEN
Technological equipment: distributor platforms
Reactor technologies are essential for maximizing the catalytic efficiency of refining processes. The creation of new designs, such as that of the Hyquench distribution platform, Equiflow™, draws on a combination of process engineering and fluid mechanics expertise.
Learn about the operation of distributor platforms:
IFPEN develops technologies aimed at facilitating the final conversion of the heaviest residues while reducing the environmental impact of processes, and ensuring compliance with environmental standards and constraints, particularly the tightening up of specifications governing bunker fuels since 2020 (IMO).
Combining refining and petrochemicals
The FCC (Fluid Catalytic Cracking) cluster consists of the pretreatment of the FCC feeds and the FCC process itself (R2R™), which treats an average of 25% of a refinery's flow. It is being developed as part of the FCC Alliance, established 35 years ago by IFPEN, Axens, TotalEnergies and Technip Energies (formerly Technip FMC). Research conducted in recent years has made it possible to increase the flexibility of the new fluidized bed catalytic cracking process in terms of feeds and target products with a view to meeting the combined needs of the refining and petrochemicals sectors, while reducing their environmental impact. The research conducted will make it possible to steer cracking towards petrochemicals on a larger scale in order to maximize light olefin production.
"The market success enjoyed by the Alliance, the global leader in the field, is hinged around our experimental strengths built on pilot tests, technological developments (hydrodynamic study models) and advanced analytical tools, a pool of resources not found anywhere else in the world. The FCC Alliance’s framework contract was renewed at the beginning of 2019 for a period of 5 years."
Anne-Claire Pierron, FCC project, IFPEN
IMO specifications for marine fuels
International Maritime Organization (IMO) governing marine fuels since 2020 represents a major change in the refining sector. These regulations are set to have a substantial impact on the way unrefined residues are managed, reinforcing the needs for deep conversion in order to eliminate the production of these sulfur-laden products.
“New IMO regulations impose more restrictive specifications for marine fuels since 2020: their sulfur content is now below 0.5% in order to limit sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions, which are harmful to health. This should lead to a considerable improvement in air quality. These standards reinforce the need for residue conversion and hydrodesulfurization processes. To address this, we are working to improve the H-Oil™ process, which already offers conversion rates in excess of 98%, in order to optimize its economic and environmental performance. We have also developed an innovative process enabling the simultaneous production of an ultra-low sulfur marine fuel and high-value distillates: thanks to the integration of desulfurization and conversion operations, its energy and economic efficiency have been optimized.”
Wilfried Weiss, project manager, IFPEN
Find here the solutions offered by IFPEN to optimize fuel use.
OVERVIEW AND CHALLENGES
The fuel sector today is marked by profound changes and accelerating societal trends such as:
- commitments made by signatory countries to the Paris agreement concerning the reduction of GGEs,
- the drive to improve air quality,
- the emergence of soft transport modes,
- the quest to find substitutes for fuels and chemical intermediates of fossil origin, etc.,
The evolution in the demand for oil products (fuels, naphthas, bitumen, etc.) is currently impacted by geographic and structural factors: on the one hand, growing needs in terms of individual mobility in emerging zones, road and maritime freight transport and aviation; on the other hand, the demand for fuels is also influenced by the roll-out of alternative solutions (electrification of the vehicle fleet, public policies aimed at encouraging the use of low-carbon fuels and the development of new mobility models) that will lead to radically changing needs in the future. In parallel, oil products are governed by increasingly strict specifications and the reinforcement of regulatory constraints, with, in particular, stringent standards aimed at tackling air pollution and reducing the sulfur content of gasolines and diesel fuels, limited to 10 ppm (since 2009 in Europe and since 2020 in China, India and the USA).
The pattern of evolving needs for oil products will remain divergent and heavily regionalized with:
- a fall in the global demand for gasoline fuel,
- the continued growth of middle distillates (jet, diesel) used for freight transport and aviation,,
- the structural evolution of needs for heavy oil products, marked by a reduction in the demand for heavy fuels and an increase in the demand for marine fuels (associated with the growth in freight transport combined with the 0.5% limit placed on the sulfur content of marine fuels since 2020).
In this context, root and branch changes are required in the refining industry: it has to adapt refining facilities to propose clean products, address mobility needs and contribute to the energy transition, in an economic and sustainable manner.
In this context, root and branch changes are required in the refining industry: it has to adapt refining facilities to propose clean products meeting the strictest standards, address mobility needs and contribute to the energy transition, in an economic and sustainable manner. It will also need to integrate new non-fossil sources and improve its operations in order to reduce its CO2 emissions.
To lead this transformation in an uncertain context - also marked, in the short and medium terms, by the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic -, the sector is seeking to optimize its investments; it also has to speed up the process of converting its sites using the tools and software solutions of the digital revolution..
Developing innovative, eco-efficient production processes for clean, sustainable fuels meeting stricter standards and state incentives in terms of the incorporation of biofuel.