David J. Brown (Senior R&D Manager)

David Brown is the Senior R&D Manager for AVGI. He has an MEng degree from the University of Cambridge and a DPhil degree from the University of Oxford. David is a Chartered Engineer (UK equivalent of Professional Engineer/PE) and a Fellow of the (British) Institution of Chemical Engineers.  David has made numerous presentations on cracking furnace design and operation, especially in the area of advanced CFD simulation of combustion systems, and has had papers published on the same topic. He is the joint holder of 7 patents. Before joining AVGI in 2017, David had 28 years' experience in cracking furnace design (TechnipFMC, formerly known as Stone & Webster) and 13 years in cracking furnace operation (SABIC, formerly known as ICI, and TOTAL). 

David is managing Task 5.

Philippe Lenain (Consultant engineer with a specialization in management of innovative projects)

 has a 15-year experience in the coordination of European and national collaborative research projects for companies/RTDs of different size and in several technological domains (nano-materials, rail transport, cobotic…). He previously worked for different structures, such as SMEs, Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a European network. His experience as National Contact Point allowed him to participate to all the phases of an EU project. At the CCI of Essonne, he set up international projects for different structures (SMEs, labs, CCI…) and for clusters (System@TIC).

In addition to his strong industrial and technical background, his key assets for this role of project manager are also related to the ability to perform critical assessment and thus ensuring the project's objectives are met while complying with the contractual framework. Moreover, being familiar with the multidisciplinary and transnational characteristics of such consortia, he will be in a position to guarantee a continuous and smooth communication with the partners and the financing institution. Finally, his experience will also allow him to work closely with the Exploitation & Innovation Manager in order to make sure that the project results are turned into value for the consortium members.

Philippe is also in charge of the stakeholder management.

Fabienne Brutin (head of Operations of Grants department)

Fabienne Brutin is head of Operations of Grants department within international consultancy company, Ayming. Fabienne Brutin has been managing department dedicated to the engineering and coordination of R&D funded projects for 10 years. As chemistry engineer, Fabienne started her career at RHODIA/SOLVAY in the Environment/Process engineering Department. After 20 years spent in the engineering consulting and project management, her fields of expertise are wide: design of projects' strategic outline and consortium build-up (proposal set-up and submission to funding bodies, consortium management, project structuring, proposal writing) and management of collaborative, technical, administrative, contractual and financial aspects, development of strategic activities linked to Innovation (knowledge protection and valorization, networking, dissemination, communication and standardization). Fabienne Brutin is PMP® (Project Management Professional) certified project manager

Dr Bénédicte Cuenot (Head of the combustion group)

Obtained her engineering and master degree from Ecole Centrale de Paris in 1990. After one year as research engineer in the University of Boulder (USA), she came back to France where she defended her PhD in 1995 and HdR in 2000, both in the field of numerical combustion. She is now the leader of the combustion research group at CERFACS, developing advanced softwares for the numerical simulation of turbulent combustion and heat transfer in industrial systems. She has much experience in simulating combustion chambers of gas turbines and rocket engines, as well as oil pipes in refinery furnaces. Dr. Cuenot teaches combustion in various universities. She has supervised about 30 PhD students and authored about 80 peer-reviewed journal papers. She is also much experienced in coordinating international projects, mostly financed by the European Commission where she also acts as an expert evaluator. Dr. B. Cuenot has been selected in 2018 as a Fellow of the Combustion Institute “for excellent advances in the modelling and simulation of turbulent flames in complex, multi-physics environments ».

In the project IMPROOF, Dr. B. Cuenot is responsible of WP3 (Advances simulation) and WP6 (Dissemination and communication)

Sreejith Nadakkal (Ph.D. student, combustion group)

Graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Warangal, India in 2006 and with a Master of Technology in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur in 2011.

Having worked for BrahMos Aerospace, India for two years and General Electric (Aviation), India for six years, I come with eight years of experience working in the field of applying numerical simulations of fluid flows to design aerospace systems. At BrahMos Aerospace, I carried out numerical studies using grid free solvers on store separation dynamics problems along with the aerodynamic characterisation of projectiles. At General Electric (Aviation), I worked as a part of a global team to design land and marine based power engine combustion components using high fidelity numerical methods such as Large Eddy Simulation.

As a part of the IMPROOF team, I will work towards improving the energy efficiency of steam cracking furnaces in a cost-effective way, while simultaneously reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and NOX.

Manqi Zhu (Post-doctoral researcher, CERFACS, Toulouse)

Defended her Ph.D. in 2015 at CERFACS on the topic of Large Eddy Simulation of thermal cracking in petroleum industry, supported by TOTAL, Manqi Zhu has developed her theoretical and practical skills in CFD and in stream cracking reactors. After 3 years of post-doctoral research in computational aeroacoustic field at University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, she rejoined CERFACS as a postdoctoral researcher from July 2019.  With over 6 years experience of CFD in different domains: combustion, external/internal flows, thermal cracking, aeroacoustic, etc, she is at ease to conduct numerical simulations in multidisciplinary fields in an academic/industrial environment.

By applying numerical methodologies developed in CERFACS,  Manqi Zhu will continue her research on optimising the thermal cracking process in the reactors in terms of geometries and operating conditions, in order to improve dynamic properties (pressure loss), heat transfer performance and the impact on the product selectivity and the coking formation.

Joost Van Thielen (Refractory Specialist)

I have nearly 15 years of experience in Refractory and with an API certification. After being a foreman at Vuurvast and the projectmanager since 2014.
As of 2017 I am the Legal Entity Appointed Representative of Cress BV
As a Refractory Specialist I have worked in many different industries, from old fashioned brick furnaces to high-tech steam crackers.
These experiences combined with the extraordinary capabilities of our nano-coating will ensure IMPROOF to reach its highest goals in the most efficient way possible.

George Bellos (Senior Research Scientist, DOW Benelux BV, The Netherlands)

G. Bellos is a Chemical Engineer graduated by National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece. He holds a PhD on Reaction Engineering and carried out a Post-Doc in Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP), France. He has more than 10 years' experience in refinery and petrochemical processes. Since 2011, he works on evaluating and implementing new technologies in ethylene furnaces for The Dow Chemical Company. He currently leads the R&D ethylene furnace program.

The role of G. Bellos in the IMPROOF project is to implement selected technologies to one commercial-scale furnace in DOW Benelux BV, The Netherlands.

Timothy Huygens (Improvement Engineer LHC – Furnaces, DOW Benelux BV, The Netherlands)

T. Huygens is a Chemical Engineer graduated at the University of Ghent (UGENT), Belgium in 2015. After graduation, he worked in engineering for the refinery and petrochemical industry. Since 2017, he works on executing improvement projects on the ethylene furnaces and supporting the operational furnace team as improvement engineer.

The role of T. Huygens in the IMPROOF project is that of Manufacture Representative, being the key link between the operational team and the project team. Furthermore, he takes lead in the furnace preparation for the IMPROOF selected technologies.”

Hélène Launay (R&D Manager)

H. Launay is a chemist graduated at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier (ENSCM), France. She holds a PhD in Heterogeneous Catalysis from the Institut de Recherches sur la Catalyse et l'Environnement, University Claude Bernard, in Lyon, France. After her PhD, she was a post-doctoral researcher in Materials science, DTU-RISØ National Laboratory, Denmark before she joined Dow in 2007. Since 2016, she is group leader for the Hydrocarbons R&D Commercial Technology group in Terneuzen, The Netherlands.

The role of H. Launay in the IMPROOF project is to implement and evaluate the selected technologies at commercial scale.

Dr. John G. Dillard (Ph.D., Chief Scientist)

John G. Dillard is Chief Scientist and Head of Research and Development at Emisshield Inc. He is a graduate of Kansas State University, USA having received his Ph.D. in Chemistry. His research areas of interest include surface chemistry and adhesion science. Current research projects are focused on the adhesive bonding of metals, polymeric and electronic materials. Research accomplishments in the area of adhesion have resulted in an understanding of the role of surface treatment on bond failure in durability studies of adhesively bonded polymer-polymer, polymer-metal, and metal-metal systems. Advances to improve durability have included surface treatments involving gaseous plasmas, plasma polymerization, and plasma spraying.

Dr. Dillard's role is to provide High Emissivity materials and testing procedures for the IMPROOF project.

Dr. John Olver (Ph.D., President – CEO of Emisshield Inc.)

He is the recipient of a B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering from Lafayette College in 1969, a Master of Science 1971 and Doctorate 1975 from Virginia Tech in Engineering. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in numerous states and a member of various professional organizations. He previously owned a large specialty engineering firm, Olver Inc., founded in 1973, and served in a variety of capacities during that time including Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer. In 1985, Olver Inc. was sold to its employees and Dr. J. Olver continued as a consultant with the company until 2004. In 1973, Dr. Olver simultaneously founded and owned Olver Laboratories Incorporated, a separate entity, providing complete environmental testing, pilot plant evaluations, chemical engineering process design confirmations and biological monitoring. This company was sold in 1985 to private investors. Dr. Olver founded a large privatization company and served as its President until 2001. This company was sold to private equity investors in 2001. He currently serves as the Managing Partner of Ursa Major, a real estate management company in Virginia, founded in 1983. Dr. Olver currently has 20 patents and pending patent applications.

His role is to provide High Emissivity materials and test procedures for the IMPROOF project.

Kevin Van Geem (Full Professor, Laboratory for Chemical Technology)

Kevin Van Geem is the project coordinator of the IMPROOF project and is a member of the Laboratory for Chemical Technology of Ghent University. Thermochemical reaction engineering in general and in particular the transition from fossil to renewable resources are his main research interests. He is a former Fulbright Research Scholar of MIT and directs the Pilot plant for steam cracking and pyrolysis. He is the author of more than hundred scientific publications and has recently started his own spin-off company.

He is involved in on-line and off-line analysis of complex petrochemical and biochemical samples using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography. Steam cracking in general, detailed kinetic modeling, process, scale-up, modeling, and ant-fouling technology belong to his main expertise.

Hans-Heinrich Carstensen (Senior scientist, Laboratory for Chemical Technology)

I graduated from University of Goettingen / Max Planck Institute of Flow Research in Physical Chemistry. In the thesis I studied gas phase reactions of a highly reactive radical, 1CH2 (1 1) with laser photolysis / laser induced fluorescence. After graduation I spent for almost 15 years in the USA working initially in several research institutions on experimental projects (flow reactor/MBMS; low-pressure premixed flames; flash photolysis/absorption studies of liquid phase reactions). Later I got more involved with electronic structure calculations (Gaussian software) of thermochemical properties needed to develop gas phase kinetic mechanisms. I became also briefly introduced to theoretical calculations of rate parameters for catalytic reactions during a 14 months stay at KIT (Karlsruhe). Since 2012 I am employed at Ghent University and focus on biomass pyrolysis kinetics.

My role in the IMPROOF project is to support the development of a better understanding of the gas phase chemistry of renewable fuels and their pyrolysis and steam cracking behavior  (WP1, WP2 and WP3).

Stijn Vangaever (Ph.D. student, Laboratory for Chemical Technology)

Stijn graduated with a Master in Chemical Engineering from the Laboratory for Chemical Technology in 2016 at Ghent University, where he had previously obtained his Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering. For his Master's dissertation Stijn focused on the CFD modelling of Fast Biomass Pyrolysis in novel reactor designs.

Within the IMPROOF project I will focus on validating the effect of high emissivity coatings on the fully integrated energy balance of the steam cracking process. My research extends to CFD combustion modelling of industrial fired heaters and radiation modelling.

Marko R. Djokic (Post-doctoral Assistant, Laboratory for Chemical Technology)

 Marko graduated with a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Laboratory for Chemical Technology within Ghent University (UGent, Belgium) in 2016. During his PhD Marko focused on the pyrolysis kinetics of fossil and renewable fuels. In addition, he was actively involved in steam cracking experiments using a pilot plant setup. Influence of process parameters, reactor geometries, feedstock composition and presence of impurities, as well as feedstock additives on the product yields and coke formation during steam cracking were studied. 

In the IMPROOF project, Marko will be leading experimental tests on coke formation on high temperature alloys and 3D reactors during steam cracking of propane in the pilot plant for steam cracking available at UGent.

Yu Zhang (Post-doctoral researcher, LCT – UGent, Belgium)

Yu Zhang received his doctor degree of Chemical Engineering at the Laboratory for Chemical Technology of Ghent University in 2017. His focused on radiative heat transfer modeling and CFD simulation of industrial steam cracking furnaces during his PhD.

For IMPROOF project, he will work on application of oxy-fuel combustion technology to steam cracking furnace for thermal efficiency improvement and NOx reduction.

Snehal Madane (Ph. D. student, Laboratory for Chemical Technology)

Snehal graduated with a Master of Science in Organic Chemistry from the Fergusson College, Pune University, India. For her Master’s dissertation Snehal worked on the project entitled “Adsorption of carbon dioxide on different catalysts” at the National Chemical Laboratory, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Pune, India.

Within the IMPROOF project Snehal will focus on off-line analysis of complex petrochemical and biochemical samples using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography.

Jakobi Dietlinde (Head of Metallurgical Services)

Dr. Dietlinde Jakobi is holding a master degree in technical chemistry and a Ph. D. in natural sciences from the Technical University of Aachen, Germany.

She is currently (from 2009) the Cooperate Director of the Schmidt + Clemens “Research & Development Services” Department. In this role, her responsibilities cover five manufacturing sites worldwide and the coordination of a team of 25 highly qualified researchers and technicians providing technical consultancy and metallurgical services and working continuously on about 30 different R&D projects.

R&D work on materials improvement for steam cracking furnaces; investigations on coil pre-oxidation during furnace start-up; coking experiments in conditions very close to steam cracking conditions; investigations on material deterioration in steam cracking process; development of 3D technologies.

Personal achievements related to the projects: several patent applications & patents related to alloy development (e.g. for application in steam cracking furnaces) and new technologies for steam cracking furnaces.

Sebastian Klein  (Head of Research & Development)

Sebastian Klein is holding a masters degree in Business Information Systems from the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

He joined Schmidt + Clemens in November 2008.

He is currently Head of Research & Development of the Schmidt + Clemens “Research & Development Services” Department.

At S+C he focuses on the coordination of R&D activities, project management and controlling.

Jörg Dietmar Weigandt  (Senior Manager Customer Support)

Dr. Jörg Weigandt is holding a masters degree in mineral processing and refinery and a Ph. D. in engineering from the Technical University of Aachen, Germany. He joined Schmidt + Clemens in October 2007.

He is currently Senior Manager Customer Support of the Schmidt + Clemens “Research & Development Services” Department.

At S+C he focuses on follow up of the performance of new technologies for the Steam Cracking industry.

Peter Oud  (Senior Product Development Engineer)

Peter Oud is Product Development Manager for the Ethylene product line at TechnipFMC Process Technology, a company which is amongst others market leader in the ethylene industry and which is part of the TechnipFMC company, a global leader in subsea, onshore, offshore, and surface technologies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Hogere Technische School “Amsterdam”, the Netherlands. He has over 30 years of experience in designing and engineering of ethylene plants on numerous projects, from the proposal stage up to the start-up phase. He developed many in-house tools and designed several special equipment items. As process lead engineer he has been responsible for the introduction of various new technologies and presented these on a number of occasions. He has been granted by his company the Expert title regarding ethylene plant cracking furnaces and hot sections. Peter is a two times winner of the company’s internal contest to highlight and recognize some of the best initiatives undertaken within TechnipFMC:

The Jaques Franquelin Award 2015, Category “Building the future”, “Furnace revamp with new own developed radiant coil geometry”

The Driving Change Award 2018, Category “Innovative Approach and Solutions”, “Refinery off-gas cracker shapes the future of TechnipFMC in the ethylene industry”

Since he accepted his position as senior development engineer in 2015, he filed several patents both as inventor as well as co-inventor. Amongst others for the “Low-emission cracking furnace” developed for the IMPROOF project.


“33rd Ethylene Producers Conference” – April 18-22, 2021, Dallas-TX (USA)

5 November 2020

The European Federation of Chemical Engineers (EFCE) Spotlight Talks

27 October 2020

Kevin Van Geem (UGENT), coordinator of IMPROOF, will give a talk for the European Federation of Chemical Engineering on 26 November (10h30-11h30) on the Electrification of the chemical industry. The exchanges will cover the benefits of applying industrial innovation practices and the many applications of electrification and process intensification in process industries. Detailed programme and free registration:  Read more

IMPROOF Workshop “32nd Ethylene Producers Conference” – Sunday 16 August 2020

12 February 2020

The IMPROOF consortium is pleased to announce the  IMPROOF workshop that will be held at Houston (USA) on Sunday 16 August 2020 online,  connected to the 2020 Spring Meeting and 16th Global Congress on Process Safety. Registration is open for all stakeholders from both industry and academia. Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required on : We will share to the registered people the link to access to the webinar later on . The link will be available until 19th august, 2020.Read more

Discover the integrated model for energy optimization of steam cracking furnace

16 December 2019

Dow is organizing an Open Day with regards to the optimization of steam cracking furnaces. Therefore we are sharing with you an invitation to visit us at an Open Day event on January 29 in Terneuzen, The Netherlands. During the event, we will feature a newly expanded portfolio of innovative studies to meet future industry requirements in terms of energy optimization and CO2 emissions. We are presenting the developments of the EU funded IMPROOF project. Experts from European Universities and leading technology developers will present their contributions towards the future ethylene furnace. The experts will be present at the event to address your questions. •                   Event opening from Jamie Cohen, Dow EMEA R&D Director •                   Keynote presentation on the Chemical Industry under the 4th Industrial Revolution, Rafael Cayuela, Dow Chief Economist •                   Overview of IMPROOF, G. Bellos and Prof. K. van Geem •                   Lectures on biofuel firing kinetics, oxy-fuel combustion, high emissivity coatings, radiant coil technology advancements and low emission furnace design will be given by IMPROOF partners from Politecnico di Milano, John Zink, Cress BV, Gent University, Schmidt and Clemens, Technip and Dow •                   Plant tour by bus •                   Event closure Register, no later than 20th December in order to attend our sessions during the event: Read more

IMPROOF Workshop – 27-28 january 2020 and DOW Open Day 29 january 2020

8 October 2019

The IMPROOF consortium is pleased to announce the two-day IMPROOF workshop that will be held on 27-28 January 2020 at the Laboratory for Chemical Technology in Ghent, Belgium. Registration is open for all stakeholders from both industry and academia. Participants can register for one or two days: Day 1: Computational Fluid Dynamics assisted Process Intensification (27 January 2020) Day 2: Novel Technologies in Steam Cracking Furnaces (28 January 2020) Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required: : However, due to the limited capacity of the event, participants who register but fail to attend will be charged a no show fee of € 50 (except for valid reasons).  Read more