SCIweek📰 Gates and Sunak attend cleantech launch, Ineos secures major funding for cracker, and more

20 February 2023 | Muriel Cozier

Everything you need to know at the start of this week in science and industry.

Finland-based Neste has set up an Innovation Centre in Singapore which it says will strengthen its innovation and R&D globally. The new centre will be focused on research in the area of raw materials and pre-treatment processes for renewable fuels and chemicals. Located in Singapore’s Science Park II, Neste has taken on more than 20 researchers and staff to date. The company added that Asia has become an important market area, and the centre will support its plans for growth in the region.

Neste said that during 2022 its R&D expenditure was €85 million, of which the majority was used in innovation, research and development, and testing of future raw materials and technologies.

Lars Peter Lindfors
Lars Peter Lindfors, Executive Vice President, Innovation, NesteImage: Tomi Parkkonen

Commenting as the centre was officially opened; Lars Peter Lindfors, Executive Vice President, Innovation, Neste, said:

‘Innovation has enabled our transformation from a regional oil refiner towards global leadership in renewable and circular solutions […] The APAC Innovation Centre creates a framework for world-class raw material research also in the Asia Pacific and supports our growth in the region, driven by our expanding renewable products refinery in Singapore, start-up of which will take place by the end of the first quarter 2023.’

Ineos secures landmark investment for Antwerp cracker

Said to be the ‘largest investment in the European chemical sector for a generation,’ Ineos Olefins Belgium has raised €3.5 billion to support the construction and operation of its cracker, located in Antwerp, Belgium. The company says it will be the most environmentally sustainable cracker in Europe; with a carbon footprint three times lower than the average European steam cracker. It can also operate entirely on low-carbon hydrogen, and can be adapted for future electric furnaces. The facility, Project ONE, is supported by 21 commercial banks.

Jason Meers, CFO Ineos Project ONE said: ‘Project ONE […] will bring new opportunities to the chemical cluster in Antwerp, as well as strengthen the resilience of the whole of the European chemical sector.’

Pertronas signs PDAs for Malaysia CCS projects


Pertronas has signed two Project Development Agreements with ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc to jointly pursue Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects in Malaysia.

Under the agreements the collaborators will define next steps including technical scopes for the CCS value chain, and evaluation of the identified fields for carbon dioxide storage.

This latest development follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the companies during the final quarter of 2021. Petronas Head of Carbon Management, Emry Hisham Yusoff said: ‘This collaboration further strengthens Petronas’ commitment in providing decarbonisation solutions, aligned with our aspiration in establishing Malaysia as a leading CCS hub in the region.’

Eni partners with PBF on Louisiana biorefinery


In the US, Eni Sustainable Mobility and PBF Energy are to partner in a 50-50 joint venture biorefinery currently under construction in Louisiana. The new facility, which is co-located with PBF’s existing Chalmette Refinery, will produce mainly hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) diesel, and have a capacity of 306 million gallons each year, using 1.1 million tonnes of feedstock.

As well as finance, Eni Sustainable Mobility will provide expertise in biorefining operations and the Ecofining process technology, which Eni developed in cooperation with Honeywell UOP. PBF will continue to manage the project execution and operate the new biorefinery. The new St Bernard Renewables biorefinery is scheduled for start-up in the second half of 2023.

Bill Gates and Rishi Sunak attend launch of Cleantech for UK

Bill Gates Rishi Sunak Imperial Clean Energy Foundation
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits Imperial College with Bill Gates, where they were walked through a showcase of UK innovation by Professor Mary Ryan, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) of Imperial College. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

Bill Gates and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attended the launch of an initiative aimed at paving the way for a new generation of global cleantech champions in the UK.

Launched at Imperial College London, UK, Cleantech for UK is a new coalition supported by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy, and organised by Cleantech Group. It has combined funds of more than £4 billion. Founding members of the initiative include Imperial College London’s cleantech accelerator Undaunted, Clean Growth Fund, and Legal and General Capital.

The backers of the initiative said that Cleantech for UK will look to ‘establish a dialogue between the UK’s policy-making community and those creating, incubating, investing in and scaling cleantech companies.’

Bill Gates commented: ‘The UK has all the ingredients to become a major player in the global push to build a net-zero emissions future, including world-class research facilities and forward-looking investors. It’s great to see cleantech businesses, innovators and policy makers coming together to advance UK climate leadership.’

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