Marketing & Services segment
Marketing & Services
In 2014, Marketing & Services’ R&D fine-tuned its roadmap in line with its ambitions and revised its internal organization.
Two major thematic platforms were identified: reducing the environmental footprint of products and improving the durability of its end users’ equipment. They include the following development work: fuel economy for customers (fuels, lubricants, additives), competitiveness and new offers (lubricants, bitumens, special fluids), anticipation of regulatory developments (marine lubricants, aviation lubricants), and incorporation of bio-sourced molecules (lubricants, racing fuels).
Fundamental research provides the ideas necessary for designing and developing breakthrough products, which are one of the objectives that Marketing & Services has set for R&D. International secondments were put in place for the first time to incorporate the best scientific expertise into Marketing & Services’ know-how.
The number of international scientific cooperations grew sharply in 2014, and several researchers of foreign nationalities were recruited for the Solaize Research Center.
The Technical Center of Asia-Pacific, based in India, yielded results for the first time in 2014, mainly for lubricants, but also for special fluids, bitumens, fuel additives and fuels themselves. It is also the global competence center for textile lubricants and two-wheeled vehicles.
In 2014, the development of a new Excellium fuel formulas was completed and the benefits for customers were demonstrated. These developments focused on “engine cleanliness” and incorporate a new detergent technology developed internally. UTAC-CERAM Group’s assessment of the Excellium formula on trucks, in compliance with the Energy Economy Certificate (CEE) protocol, showed a 4% consumption savings.
The results produced by Excellium development work also served as basis for the new Total Traction Premier formulation developed for Total France.
In the field of refining specification additives, new block copolymers were synthesized to improve the cold flow properties of distillates at low temperatures.
The Fuel Economy range of lubricants continues to expand with many new products added to comply with the specifications of manufacturers targeted by the Total Lubricants business line in all fields of application (automotive, marine and industries). New marine lubricants for two-stroke engines are being developed to anticipate changes in fuel (very low sulfur in coastal areas) and emissions requirements. Research in lubricants also seeks to drive international development and the growth of the volume of lubricants sold. The number of manufacturers whose engines are being installed on the research center’s engine test benches for the assessment of their lubricants is growing constantly with a peak for German manufacturers in 2014.
To meet the challenges of competitiveness, sustainable logistics and geographic development, researchers focused on optimizing bitumen formulas for roads, undertaking studies on the possibility of transporting bitumen in solid form and developing Styrelf formulas in Russia. Work on the formulation and industrialization of a specialty bitumen for industrial application was pursued successfully.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected the proposed unleaded Avgas, which will be assessed comparatively with three other competing proposals.
With a better understanding of the fluid catalytic production process and its applications, new patent applications were filed.
Lastly, thanks to their know-how and responsiveness, the researchers achieved success in racing fuels by developing products suitable for the new Renault V6 Formula 1 engine, particularly fuels containing biohydrocarbons which were instrumental in the victories at the Canadian, Belgian and Hungarian Grands Prix.
New Energies’ R&D effort is focused on the solar value chain from silicon to photovoltaic electricity management systems and on the development of biotechnological methods of converting biomass into products for the Group’s markets.
In the field of solar energy, R&D is striving to improve SunPower’s methods of producing cells and modules, in order to reduce costs while enhancing their efficiency and reliability. It is also preparing future generation photovoltaic cells within the framework of several strategic partnerships between TOTAL and renowned academic research institutes. In particular, TOTAL is the founding partner of the Ile de France Photovoltaic Institute, an ambitious project set up in the Paris-Saclay campus.
Downstream in the solar value chain, R&D is monitoring the development of low-cost stationary storage technologies. It is also preparing solutions for supplying solar power and associated services to residential markets, by developing software tools and algorithms for the intelligent management of domestic electricity production and consumption, but also by integrating and testing systems combining photovoltaics, storage, control of demand as well as pilots for assessing and improving systems and algorithms in contact with customers.
With regard to biotechnologies, the Group is developing methods for converting sugars into biofuels and molecules of interest for chemicals, as well as processes for the deconstruction of lignocellulose into sugars. The Group has set up its own laboratories, including a competence center on fermentation and a joint laboratory with Marketing & Services devoted to bio-sourced specialties, and a dedicated research team. This research team manages a network of partnerships with research laboratories and startups in the United States and in Europe. The Group’s leading partner is Amyris, a U.S. company listed on the NASDAQ, in which
the Group held a 17.23% stake as of December 31, 2014.