ExxonMobil announced on January 8 that it has signed a partnership agreement with IBM to advance the potential use of quantum computing in developing next-generation energy and manufacturing technologies. The new partnership was formally announced during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. As part of the agreement, ExxonMobil becomes the first energy company to join the IBM Q Network, a worldwide community of Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, academic institutions and national research labs working to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for science and business.
“The scale and complexity of many challenges we face in our business surpass the limits of today’s traditional computers,” says Vijay Swarup, Vice President of Research and development for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. “Quantum computing can potentially provide us with capabilities to simulate nature and chemistry that we’ve never had before. As we continue our own research and development efforts in the areas of energy and chemical manufacturing, our agreement with IBM will allow us to expand our knowledge base and potentially apply new solutions in computing to further advance those efforts.”
Advances in quantum computing could provide ExxonMobil with an ability to address computationally challenging problems across a variety of applications, including the potential to optimize a country’s power grid, and perform more predictive environmental modelling and highly accurate quantum chemistry calculations to enable discovery of new materials for more efficient carbon capture.
“The advancement of new breakthroughs, coupled with the creative application of current technologies available to us from outside the energy sector, will be critical in addressing the dual challenge of producing energy to fuel economies and meeting consumers’ needs while managing the risks of climate change,” Swarup adds. “Much of the success in our own ingenuity is facilitated by the innovation of others outside our industry, from three-dimensional printing to quantum computing. The many partnerships we lead or participate in around the world provide us with opportunities to exchange ideas and collaborate, applying our own unique experiences, knowledge and strengths toward a potentially successful breakthrough in lower-emission energy production or a more efficient manufacturing process.”
ExxonMobil’s partnership with IBM expands the company’s collaborative efforts with other companies and academic institutions that are focused on developing an array of new energy technologies, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The company currently works with about 80 universities in the United States, Europe and Asia to explore next-generation energy technologies.