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Imperial College London and Royal Dutch Shell join forces to produce cleaner fossil fuels

Shell Imperial Grand Challenge Programme to address energy challenge – News Release  Monday 12 February 2007

Discovering ways to produce cleaner fossil fuels will be the focus of a new multi-million pound joint research programme between Imperial College London and Royal Dutch Shell plc, to be launched on Thursday 15 February.

The Shell Imperial Grand Challenge Programme on Clean Fossil Fuels will focus on developing processes that will enhance extraction of difficult hydrocarbons with minimal release of greenhouse gases. It will examine processes from the extraction stage through to downstream delivery of energy and chemicals to the consumer.

Speaking at the ‘Meeting the Energy Challenge’ lecture at Imperial College on 15 February, Shell’s Chief Technology Officer, Jan van der Eijk will say: “This is a unique collaboration with Imperial College and it clearly illustrates our goal to move towards more use of cleaner fossil fuels and develop the necessary technology to enable this.” He added: “We know that fossil fuels will provide a large part of the world’s energy needs for decades to come so it is vital that we look now at developing new ways of producing these resources in a more responsible and sustainable manner.”

The Grand Challenge Programme aims to acquire a much better understanding of the science and engineering of CO2 in oil and gas reservoirs and coal deposits. This understanding will help to develop processes for optimising the capture and underground injection of CO2, for both enhanced recovery and long term storage. In addition, the study will explore new integrated fossil fuel production processes which use less energy and produce low carbon fuels.

Programme Director, Professor Geoffrey Maitland , Professor of Energy Engineering at Imperial College says, “This exciting programme will bring together new ideas and concepts from a broad range of engineering and science areas across the College. It has the potential to change dramatically the way oil, gas and coal are produced over the next few decades. We look forward to working very closely with Shell to provide new and potentially revolutionary solutions.”

Sir Richard Sykes , Rector of Imperial College, confirmed the importance of this project: “How we produce and use fossil fuels in ways which meet climate change constraints is one of the greatest engineering challenges of this century. The Energy Futures Lab based at the College focuses on tackling the major issues in energy research and will play a vital role in this new collaboration.”

The Programme will use the science and engineering expertise from the Energy Futures Lab, based at Imperial. Established in November 2005, the Energy Futures Lab aims to produce an integrated view of future energy supply, demand and distribution that encompasses technological, environmental, economic and security aspects.


Notes to editors:

Staff from both Shell and Imperial College will be involved in the research projects and the Programme will initially run for five years.

The ‘Shell Imperial Grand Challenge Programme on Clean Fossil Fuels’ will be launched on February 15, with a special lecture by Jan van der Eijk, Chief Technology Officer at Shell. The lecture entitled ‘Meeting the Energy Challenge’ will take place at 5.30pm in the Physics Lecture Theatre 1, Blackett Laboratory, South Kensington Campus, Imperial College and will be followed by refreshments.

Journalists who would like to attend please contact Naomi Weston in the press office.

Imperial College London:
Naomi Weston
Press Office
Tel: 0207 5946704
Email: [email protected]

Royal Dutch Shell plc:

Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 145 countries with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of Liquefied Natural Gas and Gas to Liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects including wind and solar power.


Jan van der Eijk was appointed Group Chief Technology Officer at Shell in May 2006. Prior to this he was Vice-President at Shell Downstream. He attained a doctorate in physical organic chemistry from the State University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

Contact information:
Shell: Mediarelations London:
Eurwen Thomas
Email: [email protected]

Imperial College London:

Rated as the world’s ninth best university in the 2006 Times Higher Education Supplement University Rankings, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 11,500 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality.

Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment – underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

With 62 Fellows of the Royal Society among our current academic staff and distinguished past members of the College including 14 Nobel Laureates and two Fields Medallists, Imperial’s contribution to society has been immense. Inventions and innovations include the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of our research for the benefit of all continues today with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to tackle climate change and mathematical modelling to predict and control the spread of infectious diseases.

The College’s 100 years of living science will be celebrated throughout 2007 with a range of events to mark the Centenary of the signing of Imperial’s founding charter on 8 July 1907.

Website: and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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