Preem and Chalmers have cooperated for several years around effective production and use of energy supplies. The goal has been to develop green products to replace regular diesel, streamline the processes in the refineries and reduce their carbon dioxide exhausts.
The cooperation with industrial partners is a key activity for Chalmers when it comes to making science useful and enabling innovations, especially when it comes to the global challenges such as developing sustainable energy systems. It is also important to ensure Chalmers’ competence within the energy area to make sure that the regional industry will continue to grow and prosper in the future. The cooperation with Preem was initiated in 2007 around joint studies about synthetic biodiesel, resulting in a new “green diesel”.
In 2010 the collaboration was strengthen by a strategic collaboration agreement of three years regarding research on future fuels. The research projects was organised in five clusters and treated issues such as the possibilities of carbon capture and storage (CCS) techniques and process integration in refineries. The clusters ended by the end of 2013 and new research areas and researchers were then approached.
During 2014, six new joint projects were approved within the Preem-Chalmers collaboration which was pro-longed by additional five years with a new strategic agreement. Five of the six projects have started. Read more about the projects below under Ongoing projects.
“Chalmers University of Technology represents one of the most important research and knowledge partners for Preem AB in the area of energy and sustainable development in general, and regarding development of efficient energy combines in particular.”
Petter Holland, CEO, Preem AB
A1: Operability of heat integration projects in current and future oil refinery plants
Although the opportunities for energy savings through heat recovery in the oil refining processes are great in theory, the full potential can rarely be reached due to various practical, technical barriers. In this project, the extent of and causes for the difference between the theoretical saving potential and what can be achieved in practice is analysed. The analysis is based on interviews with refinery personnel. The results of the interviews are used to analyse the technical barriers to heat integration, but also to identify possible driving forces to implement larger energy efficiency projects. Optimising energy use in industrial plants is a necessity for lowering carbon dioxide emissions and for efficient integration of new processes based on, e.g. new technology and renewable feedstock in the existing plants. The project is anticipated to contribute to more general conclusions about what is required to reach greater energy savings in industry.
Read more in the project webpage
Contact: Elin Svensson
A2: Alternative sources of biomass as feedstock in bio-refinery concepts
The purpose of this project is to investigate the potential of using Swedish algae biomass as raw material in bioprocessing mainly for biofuels. Modelling tools will be utilised to determine what biofuels that potentially could be made from the different biomasses investigated and what options there are for process integration with existing industrial activities. To make such models, detailed knowledge about the biomass composition, cultivation technology and bioprocessing is needed. Thus, work is done to biochemically characterise potentially useful Swedish seaweed and filamentous algae species to identify promising species and on technical development to fill knowledge gaps for use of algae biomass. The project is expected to give unique data on the biochemistry and bioprocessing of algae that can guide the direction of further research and development.
Contact: Eva Albers
A3: Steam reforming integrated with chemical-looping combustion
In reforming, heat is provided by burning residue gas in burners next to the reforming tubes. The flame in the burner causes stress on the reformer tubes and can also be cause for formation of NOx. By replacing the burners with a chemical-looping combustion (CLC) unit these problems are avoided since the fuel conversion occurs flamelessly as a metal oxide (oxygen carrier) is cyclically reduced by fuel and oxidised by air. Heat is transported by direct contact between the hot oxygen carriers and the tubes. In addition CLC makes carbon dioxide capture possible since the carbon dioxide will leave in a stream separate from the other gases. This project will develop oxygen carriers suitable for the residue gas in steam reforming.
B1: Methods and tools for automation of efficient industrial energy systems
Operability, as analysed in project A1, is closely related to the area of process control and its key role in ensuring desired dynamic properties and flexibility. This project aims at expanding existing methods and tools for process integration to include possibilities to analyse and unambiguously quantify the crucial control properties controllability and observability. Of special importance and interest are analyses in the presence of uncertainties and, in relation to that, the project studies how optimal wireless network control could be achieved in the presence of signal losses. The project is co-founded by the strategic research program Process Industrial IT and Automation, PiiA.
Contact: Karin Eriksson
B2: Alternative fuel production using bio-oils from the forest sector – Fundamental studies of catalyst deactivation
Bio-oils from forest products can be used to produce fuels, but they need to be upgraded to have properties suitable for fuel applications. This can be done by a catalytic hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) process, which primarily reduces the oxygen content and chemically stabilizes the bio-oil. This project will focus on gaining a fundamental understanding of catalyst deactivation during the catalytic HDO process to produce bio-diesel.
The outcome of the individual projects should provide guidance to policy makers, government, industry and other organizations that need to make decisions about the production of renewable fuels. Examples of such areas include:
- policy objectives and instruments to achieve established goals,
- investments in research and development, and
- investments in infrastructure and production.
“The results from the research projects have been of great importance to Preem AB in the process of developing a long-term strategy to obtain a sustainable position for Preem's refineries. The results and the improved understanding of the underlying complex chemical mechanisms have been of decisive importance during our development of a production unit for talloil based diesel for the Swedish market.”
Petter Holland, President and CEO, Preem AB
Responsible for the management of Chalmers' activities within the collaboration is Annemarie Wöhri.