Eni recently renewed its energy research partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI), establishing a new path forward for this highly successful collaboration. This alliance provides an opportunity to bring together Eni’s technology assets with MIT’s excellence in scientific and technological research. Our goal is to develop innovative, powerful tools, technologies, and solutions to address global energy needs and challenges.
Eni is a MITEI founding member, a key partner since shortly after MITEI’s launch and is also MITEI’s largest energy research sponsor. Eni’s funding signifi cantly exceeds the founding member support level of US$5 million/year, advancing research projects that span the energy spectrum from traditional hydrocarbons to methane hydrates to solar energy.
Over the past five years we have had a number of great successes:
Solar power has been a key focus of the partnership through the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center, and perhaps the most interesting innovation has been the technology to print solar cells on paper, making them flexible, durable and cheap.
The research effort has also focused on our traditional oil and gas activities. For instance, we have developed a new integrated modeling system which allows us to better understand and develop hydrocarbon reservoir. And very importantly in a post-Macondo world, we have been working on a system to clean-up oil spills more efficiently using super-absorbent materials.
The Eni E&P division is interested in exploring new research techniques for sustainable exploitation of conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon sources, starting with novel approaches and studies for improving subsurface description and reservoir simulation. The alliance will also extend to the Eni G&P division, with a focus on natural gas utilization with distributed generation, energy storage, and renewables.
As well as generating interesting technological innovations, the Eni-MIT partnership has another great success to its name. We have developed a unique way of working together. MIT brings to the table the best of academia, and a vocation to broad-spectrum innovation, while Eni brings 50 years of technical experience and a pragmatic focus on industrial viability. The result is a partnership that generates real innovations of real economic signifi cance.
The way in which we work and what we have achieved so far means that we have great hopes for the next four years together. The focus will be on generating new ideas to improve the effi ciency and sustainability of the oil & gas industry and on maturing some of the most important discoveries made to date.
Key areas of interest will cover all aspects of our business – from reservoir modeling and natural gas distribution and storage to ‘green chemicals’ – by which we mean chemicals made out of biological matter instead of fossil fuels.
At the same time, solar power will continue to be a pillar of our collaboration – we are intending to run pilot projects to develop fl exible solar cells and build a prototype of a solar concentrator for steam generation.
We have a very exciting time ahead of us. And on the back of a successful five-year track record, I have every confi dence that the Eni-MIT partnership will contribute to solving the energy challenges of today – and of tomorrow.
Paolo Scaroni has been CEO of Eni since June 2005. He graduated in economics from the Università Luigi Bocconi, Milan, and later earned an MBA from Columbia University, New York. In November 2007, he was decorated as an Offi cier of the Légion d’honneur. OE