Being Efficient 3/3: Delivering Cleaner Fuels 03.09.2015

How to meet the world’s growing demand for energy? How to produce fuels and chemical products in the most efficient way? These new challenges have set the path to important changes on how any energy company operates.

After discussing refining-petrochemicals integration and industrial equipment in the context of energy efficiency, let’s switch to Axens position on the global context of lowering emission limits for fossil fuel-powered vehicles. What can be done to reduce the gasoline and diesel combustion impact on the environment from a refining point of view?

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For more than 20 years now, gasoline and diesel have been gradually reformulated in order to reduce the impact of their combustion on the atmosphere; this has been done in conjunction with improvements to automotive engine exhaust treatment devices, such as catalytic converters. In particular, sulfur was a concern, because it results in SO2 when it is burned and is also a poison for the exhaust treatment catalyst. People don’t realize that over this period, sulfur content in gasoline has been reduced by a factor of 200, considerably improving air quality, notably in large cities.

These changes, implemented to start with in OECD countries, are now gradually being extended around the world; China just announced for example that in 2016, all of its fuels will contain less than 10 ppm sulfur.

In the mid-90s, when people were trying to find ways to desulfurize gasoline, there was no easy solution on the market. Together with our parent company IFPEN, we developed an innovative, simple way to do that, by concentrating the relevant fractions of gasoline in order to treat them selectively in a later step, thereby reducing the octane losses. This process, called Prime-G+™, is a benchmark on the market and has been sold more than 250 times.

Contrary to what some people believe, our industry plays a key role in delivering mobility for a constantly decreasing impact. These challenges, i.e. striving constantly to do better, are here to attract young engineers willing to help create a cleaner energy world.

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