Speech by Bruno Lescoeur, CEO of Edison Edison bolsters its research centre Il Sole 24 Ore, 17 June 2015

Centred around hydrocarbons, but with an eye to the energy-related topics of storage system, fuel cell development, and rationalization of electricity consumption. Edison, the Italian branch of the French EDF Group, has inaugurated its new Research centre, just outside Turin. "A remarkable commitment"  summarizes CEO Bruno Lescoeur "that will lead to a close cooperation between this centre and EDF's R&D Unit. The Turin centre will have its own specific area of competence in the hydrocarbon research, which will benefit the entire Group." This centre employs around 30 researchers, equally split between Turin and Milan. The initiative has been developed in association with the Polytechnic University of Turin and the University of Milan-Bicocca, particularly in terms of hydrocarbon-related R&D. "The hydrocarbon lab enables us to branch out into research in a broader range of energy sectors, from research and exploration of oil and gas to electricity self-production, via storage systems, all the way throught to the monitoring of gas and electricity consumption" says Claudio Serracane, head of Research Development & Innovation at Edison. "The new labs, equipped with geochemical, geomechanics and petrophysics sections, started operations about six months ago. After this test phase, research is now in full swing, and we can now broaden our field of activity" says Paolo Tosco, director of the Trofarello centre, where researchers analyze rock samples extracted from gas and oil fields with a view to developing effective computational models to predict the behaviour of reservoir rocks. Among the most innovative projects under way, the one carried out by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) on the development of sponges that could absorb oil spilled at sea. The smart sponges are made out of nanostructured materials and can detect the pollutant -oil, in this specific case- and absorb it without getting saturated with water.   As far as electricity is concerned, the centre is collaborating with the Eifer Institute (Karlsruhe, Germany) and the Energy Department of the Polytechnic University of Turin to test new systems for more durable and resistant fuel cells, which are a key element of the co-generation process, i.e. the production of electricity and heat by means of a chemical process instead of combustion. Finally, there are ongoing projects on energy storage systems -particularly solar energy- connected with glass walls covered in thin film, that could make buildings energy-independent in the future.