All R&D projects the Group embarks on are geared towards gaining business advantage, with due regard paid to corporate social responsibility.
With a view to ensuring effective implementation of its strategic goals, the ORLEN Group places a strong focus on development and engages in numerous R&D projects. This engagement is taking place in the business areas of its individual companies, i.e. refining, petrochemicals, upstream and power generation, and R&D initiatives are implemented in all countries where the Company owns production assets. The innovative solutions developed in the course of those projects help to cement the foundations for the Group’s continued growth.
The ORLEN Group’s initiatives perfectly fit with the Ministry of Economy’s guidelines on the support of innovation and participation in research and development projects which are designed to promote Poland’s economy and strengthen its competitive position globally.
All R&D projects the Group embarks on are geared towards gaining business advantage, with due regard paid to corporate social responsibility. Hence, every initiative is first subject to a thorough environmental impact assessment, and the implementation of environmentally friendly solutions remains the Group’s priority. In addition to this pro-environmental approach, the Company delivers on its commitment to corporate social responsibility in its research and development work by fostering the development of human capital, as well as by building and stimulating growth of local competence centres.
As part of its efforts towards reducing air pollutant emissions, in 2014 PKN ORLEN reviewed its hydrogen and hydrogen gas management practices. A number of initiatives and projects were developed with a view to minimising hydrogen losses, increasing hydrocarbon recovery, increasing yields in the hydrocracker unit by using higher-quality circuit gas, and extending the useful life of the Isomerisation unit’s catalyst by reducing carbon monoxide content in hydrogen gas. Emission reductions, facilitated by new technologies, will allow the Group to further limit its environmental impacts.
In the area of energy efficiency improvements, work continued on the assessment of the feasibility of upgrading the atmospheric and vacuum distillation columns in the fractional distillation unit. This work is to maximise the yields of high-margin products and to mitigate environmental impact through a more efficient use of resources. Following incorporation of ORLEN OIL’s production assets into PKN ORLEN, we continued preparations ahead of the planned production launch of Group II and Group III oil bases and made progress on projects to upgrade the propylene columns and the oil column, which are aimed at increasing the workload in the Olefins II unit. Solomon’s comparative analysis of key competitive and efficiency metrics was also performed for the Olefins, CHP and aromatics complex operations.
Solomon’s comparative analysis of key competitive and efficiency metrics was also performed for the Olefins, CHP and Aromatics Complex operations.
In 2014, PKN ORLEN was engaged in the development of gas-fired high-efficiency power generation capacities. Construction work continued on the CCGT project in Włocławek, and the green light was given to a similar project in Płock. The main advantages offered by CCGT units are their higher operating efficiency and flexibility as opposed to conventional coal-based power generation systems. The technologies employed in CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) units also produce much lower emissions of harmful substances, such as NOx, SO2 and greenhouses gasses. With PKN ORLEN’s projects in Płock and Włocławek, Poland will gain new-build industrial power generating capacities, enhancing the country’s energy security and producing power and heat in line with climate policy requirements.
At its existing CHP plant, PKN ORLEN carried on with the environmental investment programme, including the construction of state-of-the-art equipment for catalytic denitrification, dedusting and desulphurisation of flue gas, with the target of meeting the strict industrial emission standards that come into force as of January 1st 2016.
In 2014, PKN ORLEN maintained close collaboration with the following research and development centres and institutes:
- ORLEN Laboratorium of Płock − analytical services and trial start-ups of production units,
- Ośrodek Badawczo-Rozwojowy Przemysłu Rafineryjnego S.A. of Płock − ongoing monitoring of corrosion processes in Fractional Distillation units II, III, V and VI, Fluid Catalytic Cracking unit, Hydrocracker unit and Olefins II unit,
- Institute of Industrial Organic Chemistry of Warsaw and Mia-Che Chemical Consulting of Skawina − use of chemical substances in line with the stringent laws and regulations currently in force,
- University of Warmia and Mazury and University of Szczecin − development of a technology for the production of biocomponents from oil-producing algae, using CO2 and process wastewater,
- Polish Biomass Society POLBIOM − analysing the possible generation of biomass for use in the production of next generation biofuels.
PKN ORLEN also worked with the National Centre for Research and Development to prepare and launch a dedicated R&D programme for the chemical industry, to be operated by the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry. With these alliances, PKN ORLEN is contributing to the development of Polish science by exchanging know-how with professional research institutions.
In 2014, the ANWIL Group continued its R&D partnership with AkzoNobel in implementing the Continuous Initiator Dosing (CID) technology in the process of vinyl chloride polymerisation. The technology will improve production safety, reduce electricity consumption and enhance environmental performance by eliminating the need to use aliphatic solvent.
The ANWIL Group is working with the Łódź University of Technology and the Central Mining Institute to develop a specialist PVC mixture for use in cable insulation. In the fertilisers segment, feasibility studies were carried out for a project designed to increase the production capacity and energy efficiency of the ammonia and nitric acid production units. A feasibility study was also conducted for a project to increase energy efficiency of installations in the plastics segment, which will reduce heat and electricity consumption of the process plant.
The purpose of research and implementation projects carried out by ORLEN Oil in 2014 was to expand the product offering and to develop technologies for new products, including 5W-30 motor oils, 5W-30 and 10W-30 advanced motor oils, hydraulic oils (biodegradable, arctic, synthetic), industrial gas engine oils, specialist oils used in machining operations, and anti-wear cleaning oils. These projects are our response to the growing demands for environmental protection and excellent operating performance of vehicles, machines and industrial equipment. Research began on optimising the operating temperatures of the vacuum distillation plant, to reduce its energy intensity. We also made progress on the project to reduce energy costs of the base oil hydrorefining process in the lubricating oil hydrorefining unit.
In December 2014, the Extraordinary General Meetings of Rafineria Trzebinia S.A. and Rafineria Nafty Jedlicze S.A. resolved to merge the two companies. The merger was completed on January 5th 2015. In connection with the consolidation processes, the company was renamed ORLEN Południe S.A.
The Rafineria Trzebinia Group continued work to optimise processes in the fractional distillation unit to achieve increased yields of quality products and reduce energy consumption. The feasibility of separating the A-4 fraction was analysed to determine whether the fraction could be used in the production of high-viscosity oil bases and slack waxes.
With this project, the Group obtained products with parameters that enable it to broaden the base of customers and industries potentially interested in buying them, and at the same time it achieved significant improvements in process economics. Work progressed on the development of new paraffin product formulae for applications in tyre, rubber and candle production and in agriculture.
In 2014, work commenced on a marine fuel, and progress was made on a project to develop the second and third generation of eco-friendly biofuels, implemented jointly with PKN ORLEN. At Rafineria Nafty Jedlicze S.A. technical and design documentation was prepared for the production of AVGAS 100 LL jet fuel, and work continued on ways to use waste gas streams from industrial processes, to optimise production costs and energy consumption. Also, work continued on the ‘Metal Working Fluids’ project, encompassing comprehensive research on a technology for the production of metal working fluids and oil bases from waste oils, which was concluded with 15 products selected and sent to potential customers for testing. In the long run, the project will result in the expansion of the product mix offered by the Jedlicze plant. With the harnessing of the innovative technology for the production of metal working lubricants, waste spent oils will be reused, an additional contribution to environmental protection.
At ORLEN Asfalt Sp. z o.o. work was advanced on the project to implement a new ORBITON HiMA (Highly Modified Asphalts) line of bitumen products, with a high polymer content. The polymer modified bitumen is more resistant to rutting, cracking, water and frost and ensures extreme durability. The next generation bitumen line guarantees that a road surface is more durable and its use more economical. Modified bitumens extend a road’s service life without major repairs to 50 years. Reducing the frequency of road works contributes to lower traffic congestion and reduced exhaust emissions. Also, using advanced-technology bitumens for road paving provides a reduction in traffic noise.
In 2014, the ORLEN Lietuva Group continued its R&D work designed to improve industrial process efficiency. The technologically advanced Visbreaker Vacuum Flasher unit, placed in service in early 2014, contributed to increased depth of crude processing, higher fuel yields and improved economics of the Lithuanian operations.
In 2014, the Unipetrol Group conducted its R&D work in collaboration with VUAnCh and Polymer Institute Brno s.r.o. Key projects sought to optimise fuel oil production without compromising high product quality and to analyse possible methods for improving the quality of diesel oils. Also, the company tested additives improving the quality of its bitumen products and completed R&D projects designed to optimise the use of catalyst. In the polyolefins business, tests of catalyst systems were performed, which enabled the launch of commercial production of block copolymers for a new catalyst system meeting REACH 2015 requirements.
The ORLEN Group complies with the requirements of the REACH regulation (Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council), which primarily seeks to ensure a high level of protection for human life and the environment, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. It also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances in order to reduce the number of tests on animals. To comply with the Regulation, manufacturers and importers of substances are required to register them with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). As at December 31st 2014, the ORLEN Group had submitted 244 registration dossiers to the ECHA database.