At Stepan, our innovation initiatives are guided by our Corporate Vision—“Innovative Chemical Solutions for a Cleaner, Healthier, More Energy-Efficient World.” Stepan works closely with customers to meet the needs of a growing population and families with increased disposable income, while recognizing our responsibility to conserve energy and use resources wisely. We have redefined our innovation process and culture by establishing key-enabling systems to drive and manage our innovation portfolio. Opportunities are identified through market needs and trends assessment exercises involving our customers and multidisciplinary teams. They are then screened through proof-of-concept and guided through a phase gate process toward a commercial product.
Approximately 40% of Stepan’s R&D resources are deployed to support strategic innovation programs and partnerships. Two well-defined strategic programs are Novel Feedstocks and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).
Novel Feedstock Program
The objective of Stepan’s feedstock program is the identification of raw material that may be produced from non-traditional sources, such as corn and cane. These raw materials may then be further converted to consumer product ingredients. Taking advantage of the biotechnology revolution, Stepan is working with suppliers to design products capable of satisfying our customers’ future needs and performance criteria.
Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)
Global energy trends have precipitated the need to develop untapped reserves in mature oil fields, thereby creating a renewed interest in EOR technologies. Recognizing this customer need, Stepan has developed an EOR program focused upon leading the industry in understanding the science of chemical EOR and developing specialty surfactants that leverage Stepan’s expansive manufacturing network. Current innovation efforts are focused on leveraging our understanding of emulsification physical chemistry, developing advanced analytical methods to gain an advanced knowledge of structure/property relationships, and developing data-driven predictive model that enhance our competitive advantage in this fast-growing market segment.
Stepan’s collaboration with Elevance has resulted in many new projects being added to our Innovation portfolio and provided us an advanced look at a new state-of-the-art technology.
Stepan and Nalco formed the joint venture TIORCO, a “one-stop-shop” solutions and services provider of EOR. Under the TIORCO brand, the joint venture provides energy producers worldwide with integrated oil-recovery processes by leveraging TIORCO's 30 years of experience in EOR polymer and reservoir expertise, Nalco's extensive reach in global upstream energy markets and BrightWater® technologies, and Stepan's global surfactant technology and manufacturing capabilities. Stepan and TIORCO work closely to understand key attributes and variables in reservoirs around the world to provide the best surfactant solutions.