Together seeking mobility solutions

Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter provided the keynote address at a recent symposium sponsored by Saudi Aramco and the Japan Cooperation Center Petroleum in Tokyo. Al Khowaiter highlighted three hard truths and the challenges of future mobility, noting they are what is driving Saudi Aramco’s fuels research program. Al Khowaiter also spoke during a press conference, which was attended by the major Japanese press.

Saudi Aramco shares GCI technology at symposium

More than 100 attendees representing the auto manufacturing industry, governmental organizations, refineries, academia, research centers, Japanese think tanks, and scientists from Saudi Aramco gathered in Tokyo on May 16 for a symposium jointly organized by Saudi Aramco and the Japan Cooperation Center Petroleum (JCCP). The event, “Unlocking the Potential of Fuel to Enable Energy Savings and Emissions Reductions,” provided an opportunity for Saudi Aramco to showcase our gasoline compression ignition (GCI) technology while creating robust relationships with major industry influencers.

Saudi Aramco began working on GCI technology in 2000, collaborating with the auto industry to co-design engines and fuels in hopes of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The technology provides a path to use light fractions in transport fuels with less processing, mitigating the global demand imbalance between heavier and lighter fuels.

The challenges of future mobility

Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, Saudi Aramco chief technology officer, opened the symposium with a keynote address and highlighted the challenges of future mobility, which he said were underpinned by the following three “hard truths”:

  • Transportation energy demand will continue to rise, especially in developing countries where societies are critically dependent on transportation.
  • About 95% of global transport energy demand is currently being met by petroleum, and according to most realistic projections, by 2040, more than 90% of transport energy needs will still be met by petroleum.
  • Road transport accounts for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.  As road transport is predominantly powered by internal combustion engines today, there is significant potential for improving vehicle efficiencies as a means of reducing the climate impact of the transport sector.

The drivers of our global research

Al Khowaiter emphasized that these hard truths are the drivers behind Saudi Aramco's fuels research program. “Our goal is to identify solutions and help develop and promote efficient technologies that are sustainable and affordable for the transport sector,” he said. “Such solutions to the challenge can only come from the collaboration of multiple stakeholders in the value chain, such as regulator/policymakers, fuel suppliers, automakers, technology providers, academic institutes, and research centers. This is what this symposium is all about.”

The one-day symposium featured three sessions: “Policy Push vs. Consumer Pulls,” “Future Fuel Enablers,” and “Prospects for Advanced Internal Combustion Engines.”

Each session showcased pioneers in their respective fields and encouraged fruitful and engaging conversations with a vigorous exchange of views, as well as active participation from the audience.

Reaching out to a wider audience

While the symposium was limited to participants from the relevant industries, Saudi Aramco took the opportunity to reach out to a wider range of stakeholders by conducting a press conference. In the conference, which was attended by the major Japanese press, Al Khowaiter summarized the company's research and development technology portfolio, especially in the field of GCI and the potential of collaboration with Japan in technology development. Reporters were especially interested in the timing of the production of a prototype car and commercialization opportunities.