Shell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on October 14 signed an agreement to invest $25 million in the research and development of high value, sustainable technologies designed to drive innovation in energy delivery.

"Both Shell and MIT are globally recognized innovation leaders. This collaboration accents Shell's commitment to develop new technologies and drive innovative solutions to address the global energy challenge," said Gerald Schotman, chief technology officer, Royal Dutch Shell. "Our collaboration with MIT will form another important building block in strengthening Shell's global technology leadership."

Beginning this year, the research collaboration will fund a suite of projects at $5 million per year for the coming five years. Those projects will focus on advanced modeling, earth science, biofuels, nanotechnology and carbon management.

"The lack of access to affordable energy poses a significant barrier to economic advancement around the globe. Together with the rapidly accelerating demand for energy, the need to develop environmentally sensitive and sustainable energy resources becomes increasingly acute. Our collaboration with Shell will drive energy innovations with the potential for significant, real-world impact," said Susan Hockfield, president, MIT.

As part of its longer-term focus, the collaboration will address future and emerging technologies that demonstrate game-changing potential for the energy industry. The collaboration will focus on a broad array of existing and new oil and gas technologies, including next-generation applications in nanotechnology, biochemistry, electronics and computer modeling. Other focus areas will include research into water treatment improvements, greater fuel efficiency, new solar energy applications and enhanced catalytic technology for advanced fuel cells and smart grids. The partners aim to develop novel sensors to detect physical and chemical properties under extreme and remote conditions.

"Shell has earned a reputation for advancing a broad portfolio of important energy technologies and for a long-term view of how the global energy system will and should evolve," said Professor Ernest J. Moniz, director of MIT Energy Initiative. "We are excited about this opportunity to significantly expand our research and education collaboration."

Note to editors: A fact sheet follows with more details on the program and areas of technical research.

  • Supplying energy for an increasing global population will be difficult as energy demand is expected to double by 2050.
  • The Shell/MITEI collaboration addresses this global energy challenge by driving innovative technologies that respond to the need to transition the global energy system and to continuously drive innovation in energy conversion, distribution, and storage.
  • The agreement establishes Shell as a Founding Member of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), an extension of the collaborative projects Shell has been conducting with MIT in a variety of basic and applied research areas since 2002.
  • The collaboration helps Shell further realize its technology strategy that emphasizes open innovation and collaborative research with universities, institutes, and industry partners to deliver effective energy solutions.
  • A specific area of interest is the impact of extreme wave action on deepwater floating structures. Research aims to develop algorithms to predict hydrodynamic loads and the motions of floating installations with the goal of better understanding fracture characteristics of high-strength steel and reducing the weight of offshore installations.
  • The collaboration will also pursue technological solutions on how to enhance the understanding of subsurface conditions.
  • Inspired by recent breakthroughs in pattern recognition and super-resolution data analysis, new algorithms will be developed to enhance the analysis of remote sensing data and facilitate fast extraction of geologic information from seismic data.
  • Research will seek more efficient simulation methods to model hydrocarbon reservoirs. Advanced signal processing techniques will be developed to improve the characterization of the subsurface through ambient noise measurements and currently unused, incoherent parts of seismic data.
  • Through MIT, Shell will have access to world-class research that will complement its efforts in the early identification of unexpected technologies and the possibilities created by the integration of technologies from different industries and disciplines. MIT offers leading research capacity at the interfaces of the major sciences relevant to this energy transition.