CTO shares insight on transportation fuel from ‘well-to-wheel’


Saudi Aramco chief technology officer Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter took part in the 12th annual meeting of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum, held recently in Kyoto, Japan. The company was one of the leading sponsors.

Al Khowaiter joined the Forum's CTO meeting, a gathering of chief technology and science officers from major corporations around the world, including Total, Philip Morris International, Nippon Oil and Energy Corporation, Hitachi as well as Toyota and Nissan Motor. About 40 members conducted an in-depth discussion on the theme “The Future Role of CTOs.”

Al-Khowaiter spoke at a session with the theme “Energy for Transportation” where the panelists discussed the most suitable energy resource for future transportation.

He explained that the most desirable fuel form should be friendly in terms of cost and sustainability, as well as energy density, highlighting that the total number of vehicles globally is expected to double by 2040.

Friendly fuel

Al Khowaiter further elaborated that to identify the most ideal energy fuel, we must closely examine a wide range of energy mix while using the well-to-wheel source of energy concerning carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.

He noted that in the example of coalfired utility and electric vehicles, total CO2 emissions resulting from such energy applications could — when a well-to-wheel accounting is used — add up to a higher level of emissions than conventional combustion engine cars.

Al Khowaiter also indicated that “The most immediate solution targeting the reduction of CO2 emissions is by further improving the conventional combustion engine, working to make it more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. He shared with the attendees Saudi Aramco's R&D initiative to develop a new fuel or low-octane gasoline and relevant gasoline compression ignition engine.

“It is very important that people look holistically to energy resources and arrive at a realistic analysis,” he said.

The forum, which was supported by the Japanese government and attended by representatives from nearly 100 countries, attracted more than 1,000 global leaders in science and technology, policy, and business, as well as the media. In its 12th year, the forum has transformed into a platform of in-depth discussion and networking in the fields of science and technology for the betterment of humanity's prosperity and sustainable development. Among the high-level attendees at this year's forum were the prime ministers of Japan and France.

Technology leadership

On the sideline of the forum, the CTO was interviewed by Nikkei newspaper, where he shared with this top-tier Japanese publication the latest Saudi Aramco R&D activities, with a particular emphasis on low-octane gasoline and gasoline compression ignition engine development. He also shared some successful examples that were a direct result of the continuing collaboration and strong partnership with Japanese industries and research centers (e.g., the HS-FCC project, Inspection Robotics, etc.). Nikkei, formerly known as Nihon Keizai Shimbun, is the world's largest financial and business daily with circulation of more than 2.3 million. It is read mainly by businessmen and university students.