Research and innovation to improve lives and accelerate the transition to a net carbon zero future
HIGHLIGHTS OF FY 2022-23
As a global business leader and a proponent of sustainable and inclusive growth paths, Reliance is deeply invested in honing its innovation prowess and Research and Development (R&D) capabilities to create a positive impact on people and the planet. Reliance’s formidable intellectual capital, underlined by its philosophy of ‘We Care’, is the force behind the Company’s continued success in innovating and inventing transformative solutions to keep Reliance relevant and resilient and help build a self-reliant India.
The Company’s vibrant institutional culture that celebrates innovation and encourages out-of-the-box thinking has helped it attract more than 1,000+ scientists, engineers and other professionals. This dynamic team brings new thinking to keep the Company ahead of the technology curve, bring world-class products and services to customers responsibly and create holistic value for its stakeholders.
Optimising R&D Impact
The Reliance R&D team has invested in advanced systems to optimise the impact of their efforts, including a state-of-the-art intellectual property management system that streamlines and automates various processes across the enterprise. Additionally, the team has integrated an Electronic Lab Notebook (ELN) with the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), providing scientists with a platform to store and organise both structured and unstructured data from experiments and procedures. The R&D team has also implemented several Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Science and digital transformation initiatives. These include developing a superior and faster algorithm for the deconvolution of polymer molecular weight distributions, a financial system for end-to-end budget planning, forecasting and reporting of the IP portfolio and automating the entire R&D budgeting process. The underlying technology of these tools is cloud capable, secure, user friendly and comes with excellent dashboard capability.
Innovation and Technology
Reliance’s sustained success in growing value for its stakeholders and embracing transformative opportunities is driven by its commitment to innovation and adaptiveness to change. Recognising the importance of agility in an ever-evolving market and industry landscape, the Company prioritises the rapid adoption of new technology and the cultivation of an innovative and entrepreneurial institutional culture. These efforts have enabled Reliance to remain ahead of the curve and grow holistically.
Reliance has witnessed multiple breakthroughs to stride towards its innovation goals in FY 2022-23.
During the reporting year, RIL filed a total of 48 patent applications and was granted 100 patents. Till March 31, 2023, a total of 2,344 patents were filed by RIL and 1,035 patents were granted to RIL.
A robust internal Intellectual Property (IP) governance framework to grow the patent portfolio has been established in alignment with the organisation’s business objectives. Reliance has a framework for meeting all compliance requirements in areas such as confidential information management, third party engagement management, and regulatory requirements across the globe. In addition, there are various supplemental digital initiatives to support the Company’s R&D efforts.
Reliance R&D Focus Areas
Reliance takes a comprehensive approach to further its R&D endeavours, balancing the needs of its current and evolving businesses to optimise operations and drive new growth and value creation opportunities. The Company also leverages strategic partnerships with local and global technology and innovation leaders to enhance its intellectual capital and further advance its innovation goals.
R&D Focus Areas
Affordable and Clean Energy
As a future-focused Company, Reliance recognises its responsibility to accelerate India and the world’s transition to a more sustainable future. The Company has championed circularity across its businesses and value chain by developing products and solutions that take forward Reliance’s commitment to circularity.
Recycling waste plastic to make value-added products: Reliance has a strong focus on designing and developing indigenous technology to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and sustainable future. The Company has successfully developed and piloted an advanced technology solution to convert waste plastic to oil. The solution is being optimised and commercialised to handle a wide range of plastic waste, including multi-layered plastic films, end-of-life plastics, and mixed waste. Reliance is exploring various uses for the hydrocarbon produced through the process for use in different streams of its refining business, including Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) and Coker.
Converting waste plastic Py Oil to Circular Polymer: Reliance has embarked on an ambitious project to produce circular polymer from waste plastic Py Oil at the Jamnagar DTA refinery. A total of 500 TPD waste plastic Py Oil will be processed in the FCC and Coker units through FY 2024-25 in a phased manner
Extracting valuable metals slag: Reliance has developed and demonstrated a process to recover valuable metals like Vanadium and Nickel from petcoke cinder, a by-product of the gasifier. The process generates battery-grade V2O5 of high purity from the very complex feedstock.
Recovering intact Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) or Polyester: The Reliance R&D team is developing a cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly technology to recover PET in its intact form from textile fabric waste as part of its commitment to circularity. The separated PET fibres are being evaluated to be used as composite materials for concrete.
Converting residual algal biomass into polymer composites: Reliance has started developing a composite made of polymer strengthened with Algal biomass. This solution optimally utilises the residual biomass after protein extraction in the algae biorefinery.
Recycling of waste vulcanised rubber goods: The Polymer R&D team has developed various chemical, catalyst, and hydrothermal methods for devulcanising waste rubber goods. This process will repurpose waste rubber to create value-added products and reduce the generation of microplastics and consumption of natural resources.
Simplifying the Recycling of Multilayer Packaging
The Polymer R&D team has developed a unique chemical recycling process for multilayer packaging material using the Company’s proprietary RELSOVE additives. The process delaminates the complex packaging material in its pure form, allowing for value-added applications of the separated layers.
The developed process is simpler than conventional solvent dissolution methods, which require multiple steps. Furthermore, value-added products using recycled delaminated plastic layers are currently under development. This process is a major step towards sustainability and circular economy, as it allows for the recycling of complex multilayer packaging material through a simple process.
Advances in biological sciences have the potential to revolutionise economies and societies and play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges of climate change. Furthermore, the integration of physical, digital, and biological sciences has given rise to the field of synthetic biology, which offers immense potential to limit and mitigate the impact of climate change. The Company is working on developing next-generation tools and environmentally friendly solutions for a safer and greener planet by combining biology with digital sciences and engineering.
Converting Algal Biomass into Value-Added Products and Food
Algal biomass grown sustainably with little land use with CO2 gases and seawater is a rich source of small molecules and polymers. Reliance’s downstream biorefinery based isolation process uses algal biomass to produce high-value products such as proteins for aqua, poultry and pet food applications. Additionally, the team has demonstrated the successful production of nanocellulose and algae oil for use in healthcare and personal care products, generating zero waste.
The Company aims to commercialise the solution in a phased manner as outlined below:
Reliance Super Protein: A 50 TPA pilot plant to produce algal protein is scheduled for commissioning. This facility will produce highly nutritious protein powder meeting the regulatory specifications for food applications. Several prototypes have already been developed for sampling and distribution.
Reliance Nanocellulose: An extraction process has been developed to produce high-purity nanocellulose from residual streams to make advanced novel biomaterials. Composites derived from the output have the potential to cater to the specialised market for bio-medical, wound care & personal care products.
Reliance Algal Feed: The algal feed ingredient has been successfully tested to serve as a suitable replacement for an environmentally regressive fish meal ingredient for various aqua and poultry food applications.
Reliance Algae to Oil: The successful demonstration of an extraction process for algal oil from residual streams offers the potential to be used in personal care products. Algae oil is rich in fatty acids and pigments and is beneficial for skin and hair health.
Precision fermentation based synthetic biology solutions are being tapped by Reliance to produce niche nutritional products and other materials. Some of these include:
R-BAGI: Reliance bio-available vegan iron protein molecule (R-BAGI) has the potential to cure anaemia and protein deficiency efficiently. This solution is currently being scaled up and has been demonstrated to be safe for human consumption.
AI-based algorithm for understanding and modifying proteins to improve taste, folding and anti-microbial properties for various applications in next-gen food, feed, personal care and bio-materials.
PHA Bioplastics: A project to develop and commercialise 100% biobased, biodegradable and compostable PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) bioplastics in an engineered microbial platform from renewable carbon feedstocks is underway. The engineered microbes have produced two types of PHAs with the potential to substitute PE (polyethylene) and PP (polypropylene). The engineered microbes are being tested at a litre-scale fermenter to produce PHAs for applications.
Spider Silk Protein: Reliance Spider silk protein, a biopolymer, is an emerging product capable of replacing chemical alternates sustainably in the personal care products industry. Production of the protein is currently being scaled up.
Computational Biology: In-silico models were developed for modification and recombinant construction of DNA to foster innovation related to synthetic biology. The platform has also created one of the largest industrial algae genome databases to fast-track synthetic biology innovations
Key R&D Projects Aligned with the SDGs
|Reliance Super Protein
|Reliance Super Protein, Reliance Nanocellulose, Reliance BAGI, Reliance Spider Silk Protein
|Fuel Cells for Distributed Energy Supply, RCAT HTL technology
|Catalytic Gasification, Catalytic Pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste to stable oil, Multizone Catalytic Cracking, Bioplastic and Sustainability Products and Technology Development, PET-based fabric Recycling
|Fuel Cells for Distributed Energy Supply, Bioplastic and Sustainability Products and Technology Development
|Reliance Nanocellulose, Catalytic Gasification, Fuel Cells for Distributed Energy Supply, Catalytic Pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste to stable oil, Bioplastic and Sustainability Products and Technology Development, PET-based fabric Recycling, Recycling of Waste Polyester
|Catalytic Gasification, Fuel Cells for Distributed Energy Supply, RCAT HTL technology
|Catalytic Pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste to stable oil, Recycling of Waste Polyester
The World’s First Sustainable Energy Farm for Algae Cultivation
The Reliance R&D team drew on its understanding of photosynthesis and engineered a unique pond design that incorporates light and dark cycles. This design has resulted in a significant increase in algae growth compared to traditional raceway cultivation methods. The dark time required for algae to rest has been utilised to capture protons using strategically placed solar photo-voltaic (PV) panels covering 36% of the pond area and providing an optimal light/dark cycle leading to a 25% increase in productivity of algae biomass.
This cultivation is designed to enhance the growth of the algae. At the same time, it reduces operations and energy cost significantly. This innovation has demonstrated the feasibility of a superefficient energy farm, one of the first in the world, that demonstrates an optimised and integrated approach for sustainable algae cultivation using solar photo-voltaic panels.
Reliance strongly believes in the role intellectual capital plays in tapping emerging business opportunities to create value for all stakeholders. The Company has invested in new 5G architecture to provide its users with unparalleled digital experiences.
Jio’s indigenously developed cloud native 5G stack is software defined and digitally managed, with support for even advanced features like Quantum Security. Jio is deploying this on its own network which makes it uniquely positioned to offer captive or private 5G solutions for Indian enterprises. This stack not only enhances strategic capability but will also enable Jio to become an exporter of telecom products.
Jio is now in the process of rolling out a unique made-for-India FWA solution that will bring clutter-free high-speed connectivity up to 1 Gbps to homes and offices. JioAirFiber will deliver fiber-like experience over the air using 5G spectrum footprint and custom-designed customer premise equipment.
Jio is continuing to enhance edge compute infrastructure in the country with its Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) stack. This stack with Intelligent Edge Server Platform is a differentiated, cloud-ready solution with central management platforms driving significant savings on power costs.
Jio powered the technology that enabled seamless 4K streaming of FIFA World Cup 2022, Women’s Premiere League 2023 and Tata IPL 2023 on JioCinema. Using its edge compute infrastructure and cloud native 5G network, Jio delivered these marquee live sports events to record number of users across India. JioCDN and JioAds were also used to deliver streams to end users and ad impressions.
Jio’s steady focus on development and deployment of path-breaking technologies has been instrumental in its large scale cutting edge network rollout and building the digital ecosystem in India. In FY 2022-23, Jio’s strong team of technology professionals filed for 123 patents and was granted 41 patents, taking the total count of patents granted to 177 till March 31, 2023. These span across network, consumer and enterprise technology.
Affordable and Clean Energy
The New Energy and New Materials business is geared to drive the next phase of Reliance’s growth in line with its goal of achieving its Net Carbon Zero target by 2035. A dedicated team of over 2500 scientists, engineers and professionals are working to integrate the New Energy and New Materials operations with the rest of the business segments to serve as a fulcrum for the Company’s transition journey. Reliance aims to increase this team in the future in line with business needs. The Company is expanding its partnerships with top institutions, start-ups, and global EPC companies to strengthen its technology and innovation portfolio for the New Energy and New Materials business.
The focus on replacing fossil fuels with greener energy solutions across Reliance operations plays a key role in driving demand for the New Energy business. The Company has prioritised using bioenergy to meet its captive energy needs and is one of the largest users of agro-waste as a source fuel. Reliance recently inaugurated Phase 1 of its Bio-Energy Technology (BET) centre, which will be used to develop cutting-edge solutions for bioenergy.
Improving India’s Energy Security and Business Efficiencies
The R&D team is working on several projects to strengthen India’s energy security and enhance business growth, including:
BIO-CBM: The R&D team is optimising the parameters for evaluating coal-specific microbial communities for methane production. Coal adaptation studies are underway on the 45 litre vessel (reactor) and core flood reactor using coal-specific consortia for sustained methane production. Additionally, bio stimulation experiments in field trials to activate indigenous microbes for enhancing methane production from coal are also being deployed.
Reliance Catalytic Hydrothermal Liquefaction (RCAT-HTL): The RCAT-HTL technology is being used to derive value from waste by producing biofuel using various organic feedstock waste. The team aims to commercialise RCAT-HTL through partnerships with waste management or technology licensing companies. It has started to upgrade the RCAT-HTL pilot system with a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) heater and a parallel filtration unit to increase its capabilities.
Catalytic Gasification of Biomass to Hydrogen (B2H): Reliance is in the advanced levels of designing 50 TPD B2H demo plants to produce green hydrogen based on a patented technology. The solution is expected to offer the lowest operating costs for green hydrogen production.
Reliance is committed to contributing towards a greener planet and is taking proactive actions to address issues related to climate change leveraging its intellectual capital.
Towards Single-use Plastic Free Operations
The Company recognises the detrimental impact of plastic on the environment. The Company is undertaking steps to reduce, recycle and reuse plastics going beyond compliance with the ever-evolving environmental regulations. Reliance aims to reduce and eventually avoid the use of single-use plastics in its operations and ecosystem. The Company is exploring the use of alternative materials and developing pathways to produce biodegradable and compostable plastics as a substitute for single-use plastics.
Biodegradable Polybutylene Adipate Terephthalate (PBAT)
Reliance is developing biodegradable PBAT processes and products for the retail and agriculture sectors. The Company has successfully run a commercial scale pilot of biodegradable net bags at the Reliance Retail outlets in Ahmedabad and Bangalore. The customers have shared positive feedback on the product performance and ease of use.
Co-Gasification of Biomass
Reliance is working to introduce biomass in the existing gasifier unit as one of the pathways to generate green hydrogen, green methanol, green diesel, Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) to achieve its Net Carbon Zero target by 2035.
CO2 to Syngas
The Company has developed a highly active catalyst and a process for reverse water gas shift reaction (rWGS) to convert CO2 to Syngas as a potential route to make green methanol.
Needle Coke and Synthetic Graphite Manufacturing
Reliance has developed a technology for needle coke production utilising existing assets and feed from the refinery. Once implemented, this will enable the Company to produce high-quality Lithium Ion Battery (LIB) anode raw material sustainably. It will also reduce Reliance refineries’ carbon footprint by switching from fuel-grade coke to needle coke and synthetic graphite.
Biomass-Derived Anode Material for Sodium-Ion Batteries
The Company has developed a technology to produce high-quality anode material from biomass for sodium-ion batteries that will reduce production costs without compromising energy density and cyclability.
Hard Carbon Development for Battery Applications
The Reliance R&D team has developed a novel process for producing hard carbon using polymer precursor. The developed hard carbon will be used as anode material in sodium-ion battery applications enhancing the circularity of operations.
Data Privacy and Cybersecurity
Reliance places great importance on adhering to the privacy-bydesign principle and ensuring that all business processes handle information in a secure and responsible manner. Regular privacy impact analyses are conducted across all businesses to identify any gaps and address them efficiently.
Jio recognises the importance of providing a secure experience for its users and protecting their personal information. Therefore, it integrates data privacy and protection and information security into the design of its digital services, underlined with an effective governance structure and inculcating an institutional culture of security through awareness-building programmes.
The proactive assessment of security risks is undertaken through stringent processes, including:
An effective governance structure is in place to minimise security incidents and protect personal information. The Company implements a comprehensive information security management programme, with policies and processes to protect its business, customers, infrastructure, services, and internal users from security threats.
Cyber Security Awareness
Technology has become the lifeline of businesses globally and indispensable for running day to day operations. Along with the pervasive spread of technology use, cyber-attacks are also becoming more frequent, and individuals are being increasingly targeted. Not only are people susceptible to various forms of online fraud, but they can also unknowingly become accomplices in attacks against their own organisations. Therefore, raising awareness about cyber security is crucial, and it should extend beyond the workplace to encompass appropriate online behavior in all aspects of life. In October 2022, a Cyber Suraksha Handbook was released across Reliance as part of a month-long cyber security awareness campaign. This handbook provides guidance on maintaining online safety at work and in personal life for children and teenagers and for safeguarding personal information. Employees were encouraged to share the booklet with their families, friends, and communities to promote broader awareness and contribute to making the cyber world a safer place.
Reliance’s rise to become one of the world’s leading conglomerates is powered by its robust intellectual capital that empowers the Company to break new ground and expand its business footprint and offerings portfolio to meet the emerging needs of customers and society. The Company recognises the importance of investing in cutting-edge technologies, products, and services to create value for its customers and other stakeholders. With this in mind, Reliance is making significant capital and resource investments to deepen skills, expand R&D capabilities and broaden the focus areas for research and innovation to tap into new market opportunities and contribute to building a sustainable and inclusive society.
One of the most notable examples of Reliance’s commitment to innovation is Jio’s True 5G network, which has already reached 2,300+ Indian cities/towns and transformed the lives of millions of Indians. The Company intends to continue to grow Jio’s services to realise India’s digital aspirations.
The Company’s R&D pursuits are designed to play a critical role in charting the desired pathways to a Net Carbon Zero future. With this goal, The Company fosters innovation and research to promote a circular economy, enhance resource efficiency, and broaden access to affordable and clean energy through sustainable products and solutions.