SOCAR Research and Development and Innovation was founded in December 2019. In June 2020, the company received a R&D Centre license from the Ministry of Industry and Technology of the Republic of Türkiye, and thus the company’s projects began to be supported by grant mechanisms.
The R&D and Innovation Centre is implementing about 20 research and development projects for Petkim and STAR Oil Refinery. The centre is operating in three main directions in accordance with the SOCAR-2035 strategy: increasing the efficiency of technological processes by innovative methods, sustainable development of production and consumption areas in accordance with the requirements of world markets, ensuring low carbon emissions, waste-free economy and ecologically clean production. In order to optimise technological processes at the level of advanced standards, the centre is working toward applying the digital innovations in the area of production.
Located in the Aliağa region of Izmir on an area of 1,200 m², the centre has six laboratories providing services for rheology, catalyst, polymer characterisation, biotechnology, chemical analysis and chromatography. In addition, the R&D Centre includes a 400 m² pilot production area and offices for the implementation of polymer processing, polymerisation and catalyst test systems. It has 25 employees with scientific degrees involved in research and innovation projects. In total, the company has 12 patents.
R&D and Innovation is implementing joint open innovation model projects together with Middle East Technical University (ODTU), Boğaziçi University, Gebze Technical University (GTU), Izmir Institute of High Technologies (İYTİ), Ege University and many other organisations, which are among the leading higher education institutions of Türkiye.
The project carried out together with ODTU aims to create an innovative technology for converting plastic waste into petrochemical raw materials by the catalytic chemical method.
In 2021, the SOCAR R&D Process Systems Centre started operating in the technological park of GTU. This centre together with the University will develop important joint projects such as a catalyst analysis unit, autonomous air vehicles, technological process control sensors and the production of chemicals based on CO2.
In the future, it is planned to expand cooperation with GTU, IYTI, Sabancı and Bosphorus Universities, Baku Higher Oil School and a number of international companies in the field of innovative digital technologies, renewable energy, green hydrogen and biofuels. In addition, the Centre will implement projects at SOCAR’s petrochemical and oil refining enterprises in Azerbaijan, as well as for gas distribution companies.
In order to develop the algae-based biodiesel technology developed at the centre, targeted measures were taken together with Technip Energies.
In 2021, the application of the catalyst mixture developed by the Centre at Petkim’s LDPE-T plant allowed for a 2% increase in production and a reduction of CO2 emissions by 11,000 tonnes/year.
An analysis device that determines the size distribution of catalyst particles larger than 1 mm by the principle of image processing technology has been developed and successfully tested at the STAR Oil Refinery.
In general, the Centre developed innovative solutions for the STAR Oil Refinery. Thus, a new algorithm was developed for optimising the sensors in the refinery’s Advanced Technology Control System (APC) and the estimates were improved by 25%. It also developed a corrosion monitoring model at the refinery.
The R&D and Innovation actively participates in the “Horizon 2020” and “Horizon Europe” Grant Programmes aimed at the transition of the European Union (EU) to a carbon-free economy by 2050. Currently, the European Commission has allocated a total of 1 million euros to the company within the framework of 5 projects, which are implemented jointly with international consortia, mainly aiming to develop innovative technologies and solutions for industrial sustainability and de-carbonisation.
In 2021, the grant support of the Republic of Türkiye and the EU totalled $2.7 million. In addition, 255,000 euros will be received from the EU for the Digital Twin project in 2022, and 1 million TL from TUBITAK for the project SAYEM within the framework of the development of 3D printed products.