The oil and gas industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for increased productivity, energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and emission reduction, and the growing importance of technologies such as biofuel catalytic cracking, green hydrogen synthesis and carbon capture. In the last three years alone, there have been over 534,000 patents filed and granted in the oil and gas industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environment Sustainability in Oil & Gas: Bio-fuels. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

40+ innovations will shape the oil and gas industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the oil & gas industry using innovation intensity models built on over 256,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, carbon capture MOFs, and biogas carbon capturing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Methane capturing, natural gas CO2 capturing, and flue gas treatment are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bio-fuels and aviation bio-fuels, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the oil and gas industry

Bio-fuels is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Biofuels are derived from biomass such as plants and animal waste or even from micro-organisms. They include ethanol (derived from edible sources such as corn, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat), green diesel (derived from non-edible sources such as agricultural waste, animal fats, and used cooking oils) and biogas (derived from animal waste).

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established oil & gas companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of bio-fuels.

Key players in bio-fuels – a disruptive innovation in the oil and gas industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to bio-fuels

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Xyleco 476 Unlock Company Profile
Anellotech 98 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 85 Unlock Company Profile
Suzano 83 Unlock Company Profile
Shell 83 Unlock Company Profile
KiOR 78 Unlock Company Profile
UPM-Kymmene 76 Unlock Company Profile
Neste 66 Unlock Company Profile
Cool Planet Energy Systems 51 Unlock Company Profile
Sundrop Fuels 47 Unlock Company Profile
Xyleco 46 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 41 Unlock Company Profile
Phillips 66 39 Unlock Company Profile
Amba Research USA 39 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 38 Unlock Company Profile
RAG-Stiftung 36 Unlock Company Profile
Iogen 34 Unlock Company Profile
Sundrop Ip Holdings 34 Unlock Company Profile
Accelergy 31 Unlock Company Profile
Linde 31 Unlock Company Profile
Marubeni 26 Unlock Company Profile
Carbonscape 26 Unlock Company Profile
Bionext 25 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil 25 Unlock Company Profile
Haldor Topsoe Holding 24 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 23 Unlock Company Profile
G4 Insights 23 Unlock Company Profile
Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group 19 Unlock Company Profile
Proton Power 18 Unlock Company Profile
ZEG Power 17 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 17 Unlock Company Profile
Electricite de France 13 Unlock Company Profile
Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus VTT 13 Unlock Company Profile
Velocys 10 Unlock Company Profile
KBR 9 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 9 Unlock Company Profile
Chevron U. S. A 9 Unlock Company Profile
Mcalister Technologies 9 Unlock Company Profile
AlzChem Trostberg 8 Unlock Company Profile
Steeper Energy 8 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 7 Unlock Company Profile
ConocoPhillips 7 Unlock Company Profile
Duke Energy 6 Unlock Company Profile
Vapo 6 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 6 Unlock Company Profile
TerraVia Holdings 6 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 6 Unlock Company Profile
Air Products and Chemicals 6 Unlock Company Profile
IFP 6 Unlock Company Profile
Inaeris Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Anellotech is one of the leading companies involved in developing technologies to produce renewable chemicals and recycling mixed plastics. Chemicals and fuels are produced from sustainable, non-food biomass using the company's patented Bio-TCat (Thermal Catalytic Biomass Conversion) technology.

In April 2021, Total began producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at its La Mède biorefinery in southern France and its Oudalle facility near Le Havre. The bio jet fuel has been delivered to French airports since April 2021. The sustainable aviation fuel is made from animal fat, used cooking oil and other waste and residue sourced from the circular economy.

Energy, transportation, and environmental research are major focus areas for IFP Energies Nouvelles. The company is creating eco-efficient technologies in collaboration with industrial players to produce biofuels. A few biofuel production technologies include Vegan™, Futurol™, and BioTfueL® (thermochemical process).

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the oil & gas industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Top 20 Oil & Gas Themes 2022.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.