PKN ORLEN builds advanced research and development centre in Płock
The Research and Development Centre is a key investment project to be implemented as part of PKN ORLEN’s strategic Petrochemicals Development Programme. The R&D Centre, to be based in Płock, will enable the Company to develop and implement proprietary technologies. As part of its activities, the Centre will carry out tests aimed at streamlining technological processes, enhancing products and optimising costs. The Centre will also serve as a modern platform for cooperation between PKN ORLEN and the world of science and business.
The investment project is consistent with the Company’s plans to extend the petrochemical production value chain. In accordance with the agreement with Budimex S.A., the general contractor for the project, the Centre is to be constructed by the end of 2020. Its total cost is estimated at about PLN 184m.
“The Research and Development Centre is one of the most important investment projects for PKN Orlen’s future. It will enable us to develop and patent new technologies, thus effectively helping to extend the value chain. The Centre will also allow us to test new technological solutions and products that emerge on the market before applying them in our units. In this way we will be able to even more effectively roll out new ideas and innovations in production, responding quickly to market demand and consolidating our position on the competitive European market,” said Daniel Obajtek, President of the Management Board of PKN ORLEN. “The R&D Centre also offers an opportunity to intensify cooperation with science and business while leveraging the vast potential of ORLEN Group employees. It will provide a modern platform for exchanging knowledge and experience between the ORLEN Group personnel and universities, academic institutes and start-ups,” added Mr Obajtek.
The most important part of the Research and Development Centre will be the Modelling and Pilot Plant, where structurally and technologically advanced space of almost 2,000 square meters will house various facilities for research work and pilot studies. The Plant will be provided with all the utilities and technical gases necessary for advanced research processes. Process temperatures and pressures will replicate the conditions present in large scale production units, reaching even 1,000 degrees Celsius and 40 atm. The Modelling and Pilot Plant will be built to the highest safety standards, with processes to be controlled from a glazed control room.
The Research and Development Centre will feature a number of modern, eco-friendly solutions. The Centre will be supplied with environmentally friendly electricity, generated using its own photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine. There will also be electromobility solutions. A charging station for electric vehicles will be built on the Centre premises, enabling up to three cars to be charged at the same time.
The Research and Development Centre will be an inherent part of the ORLEN Group’s research infrastructure system. It will be complementary to, among others, the capabilities of the UniCRE research centre located in Litvinov, Czech Republic.
Thanks to the R&D Centre, new technologies and solutions that have just been worked out through scientific experiments will be tested in real-like conditions before implementation at the production plant. Another important feature of the Centre will be its analytical and technical facilities, to be fully equipped with state-of-the-art research apparatus still before the Centre is opened. These facilities will be used to conduct analysis in various areas, including biofuels, petrochemicals, bitumens and lubricating oils. The Centre will also have an innovative engine test bench, one of just a few such facilities in Poland, for testing and developing top quality fuels.
When considering the potential location for the R&D Centre, the structure of research and development activities of leading chemical companies in Europe was analysed. The vast majority of research facilities in Europe are located close to production plants. Hence the decision to select Płock as the site of the new investment project. This location offers the benefit of close proximity to the Production Plant and the Płock Industrial and Technology Park, including the Central Laboratory. The Płock Production Plant is the largest integrated production complex of the ORLEN Group, combining refining and petrochemical operations.
The Research and Development Centre will be a meeting point for industry and science communities. Promotion of science will be one of the project’s vital objectives. A discovery path will be built on the Centre premises, focusing on scientific themes and the ORLEN Group operations. There are plans to engage students and young researchers in the implementation of research projects, giving them an opportunity to gain experience and acquire new competencies.