Energy and Environment Engineering


E3 – the Energy and Environment Engineering Laboratory – is a research group of the large center CERENA, Center of Natural Resources and Environment which is devoted to research and development on a variety of aspects pertaining to Energy and the Environment.

In the field of Energy E3 members have a broad experience covering the production of fuels from both conventional (fossil) sources and from alternative sources. In what concerns fossil fuels the group has developed work on transformation of hydrocarbons in general for the production of light fuels (gasoline and diesel) by catalytic cracking as well as by processes like isomerization and oligomerization. This work is developed at a multi-level scale, which goes from the use of quantum chemical methods, to understand the reaction mechanisms involved, to the development, analysis and design of industrial reactor systems.

The same kind of methodologies has been applied to the production of liquid fuels from alternative sources. A particular emphasis has been placed on the pyrolysis of plastic waste but work is being developed also in gasification and, in general in the development of chemical recycling and Waste-to-Energy applications

E3 has also developed work, in conjunction with industrial partners, on the development of Residue Derived Fuels (RDF).

The field of production of trans-esterification biofuels has also been pursued, under different lines, including the trans-esterification process itself, where a process involving enzymatic catalysis is currently under development in collaboration with IBB, and the selective hydrogenation of vegetable oils, a crucial step in controlling biodiesel properties, in collaboration with an industrial partner.

The analysis of equipment is also extended to multiphase equipment, both in terms of reaction (for instances in the production of aniline) and in terms of the hydrodynamics of multi-phase equipment and gas-liquid transfer.

In terms of Environment Engineering, apart from the chemical recycling and Waste-to-Energy applications, E3 has been actively involved in the fields of Environmental Biotechnology and Bioremediation, with a specific emphasis on the application to practical systems and in collaboration with industrial partners

The competences developed in the analysis and simulation of complex dynamic reaction systems is exploited in other fields, sometimes in collaboration with other Research Units. Work is being done on the kinetic modelling of different systems like enzymatic catalysis (with IBB) or olefin polymerization (with CQE).

Another line of research that has recently started within the new CERENA configuration, is the application of chemical engineering methodologies and techniques to oil production processes, in particular in the fields of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and Flow-Assurance. This area is being developed in a close collaboration between E3 and CMRP

The research and development activity of the E3 is mainly funded by research projects as well as by industrial contracts with companies like CUF-QI, GALP, IBEROL, etc.


E3 staff are actively involved in several MSc and PhD programs at IST, and ensure, in particular, the coordination of the Master on Chemical Engineering, the PhD program on Chemical Engineering and the PhD program on Refining, Petrochemical and Chemical Engineering which is funded by FCT in collaboration with four other Portuguese Universities and various chemical industries. E3 staff are also involved in the coordination of the Energy Engineering and Management Master which encompasses different KIC InnoEnergy Joint Master Degrees.

E3 also participated in the recent creation, lead by CMRP, of the PhD program on Petroleum Engineering.

E3 members are also responsible for different courses offered to the Master Degrees on Chemical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Energy Engineering and Management and Petroleum Engineering. Some of the courses offered are also made available to other Master Degrees at IST.

E3 staff members have also participated in other advanced formation course, notably in Academia GALP where the Oil and Gas module was coordinated by staff from E3 and CMRP.

IST-Oil and Gas

E3 staff are also actively involved in IST-Oil and Gas initiative, created in 2012 and lead by CERENA members from CMRP.

Research Projects and Studies

Some relevant projects pertaining to the R&D activity of E3, developed in collaboration with industrial partners are listed below:

  • ECOCombustivel – QREN project in collaboration with industrial partners for the production of RDF.
  • Iberdiesel – QREN project in collaboration with IBEROL on different aspects involved in the production of trans-esterification biodiesel
  • CUFTECH –QREN project in collaboration with CUF-QI to deal with different aspects of the aniline production process, including environmental and reaction engineering aspects.
  • CUFISCA – Project funded by CUF-QI on the analysis and diagnostic of the reactor for the production of aniline as well as the downstream processing
  • Olefin Oligomerization – collaboration with GALPEnergia, within the scope of a EngIQ PhD, to develop a reactor for the oligomerization of medium range olefins
  • Acetylene hydrogen reactor analysis and modelling – collaboration with Repsol within the scope of a EngIQ PhD

Main Strategic Lines

E3 strategy is currently focused in the following research lines: fuel production from fossil and renewable sources; production of RDF; bio remediation and environmental biotechnology.

Emerging lines are the application of chemical engineering methodologies for enhanced oil recovery and flow assurance.

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