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

Release date:
14 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 CO₂emissions. 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 fossil 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.”

Further information


For more information please contact:


Colin Smith, Senior Research Media Officer - Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London, +44 (0)20 7594 6712, cd.smith@imperial.ac.uk,

Out of hours duty press officer: +44(0)7803 886 248


Anne Coleman, Communications and Web Officer, IC Consultants Ltd, +44 (0)20 759 42069, anne.coleman@imperial.ac.uk 


Maxim Mikhailov, Skolkovo Foundation, +7 495 967 01 48, MMikhailov@corp.i-gorod.com


BP press office, London, +44 (0)20 7496 4076, bppress@bp.com 


BP press office, Moscow, +7-495-363-62-62

Notes to Editors

1. About BP


BP is one of the world’s largest oil companies serving customers every day in more than 90 countries across six continents. BP’s activities are Exploration and Production; Refining and Marketing; and Alternative Energy, its low-carbon energy business. BP is one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia. The company has been operating in Russia since 1990 with activities in oil and gas exploration, refining, lubricants, marine products and trading operations. BP has a 50% interest in TNK-BP (a large Russian oil and gas integrated company). This research programme will form part of BP’s global commitment to leading academic research establishments.


2. About The Skolkovo Foundation


The Skolkovo Foundation is a Russian non-profit organization founded in 2010 and charged by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with creating a new science and technology development centre in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo. The Skolkovo innovation ecosystem comprises the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, corporate R&D centers, business incubators and accelerators, private seed and venture funds, and start-up companies, as well as residential space and social infrastructure. Skolkovo is governed by a special law, which gives its resident companies special economic conditions for running their businesses. More than 300 companies have received the status of Skolkovo resident.


3. About Imperial College London


Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.


Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.


In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.

4. About Imperial Consultants


Imperial Consultants is the UK’s leading academic consultancy provider, connecting external organisations to the knowledge and resources of Imperial College London. Based at and owned by the College, Imperial Consultants draws on the expertise of over 3,000 academics to deliver quality commercial services for industry, commerce and government worldwide. Over the past two decades, our consultants have put their know-how to work on challenges across the globe, acting as financial expert witnesses in the US, modelling flare-ups in international gas fields, and testing viruses for European pharmaceutical companies.


5. About Boreskov Institute of Catalysis


Based in Novosibirsk, Boreskov Institute of Catalysis of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Science is the largest research centre in the world, specialized in catalysis. The BIC’s R&D activities span the areas from basic research in the field of catalysis to the development of new catalysts and catalytic technologies and to designing pilot plants for the catalysts manufacturing. The main fields of catalytic research at the Boreskov Institute of Catalysis are establishment of general physicochemical regularities of catalysis, development of scientific bases for molecular design of materials and implementation of catalytic processes; creation of new generation catalysts for chemical and energy efficient technologies, refinery and petrochemical industries, as well as creation of catalysts and technologies for innovative application areas.


6. About Novosibirsk State University


Novosibirsk State University is a classic university that focuses on training highly qualified specialists in priority fields of science and technology. The University grown up together with the Novosibirsk Scientific Center.


Since the establishment in 1958, the total number of NSU graduates has exceeded 50 000. More than 6 000 of them have defended their Ph.D. theses, over 1600 have been awarded Doctor’s degree. 48 NSU graduates became full members of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


The feature of NSU is the system of competitive selection and training of talented young people. NSU is the only University in Siberia with the developed multilevel system of continuing education. The system of selection and training of highly qualified specialists consists of Olympiads, correspondence schools on various subjects, winter and summer schools for students and applicants as well as undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate training at NSU.

7. About UNICAT Ltd


UNICAT, a Limited Liability Compan y, was founded in January 2011 as a spin-off innovation company with the main R&D activity in the fields of catalysis, engineering and energy efficient technologies. The shareholders and owners of UNICAT are theBoreskov Institute of Catalysis and No v osibirsk S tate University. In October 2011 UNICAT Ltd. has been approved as a resident of Skolkovo innovation ecosystem.