Aramco, a global integrated energy and chemicals company, and ENOWA, NEOM’s energy and water company, have signed a joint development agreement to construct and establish a first-of-its-kind synthetic electro fuel (e-fuel) demonstration plant. It will be located in ENOWA’s Hydrogen Innovation and Development Center (HIDC) and aims to demonstrate technical feasibility and commercial viability by producing 35 barrels per day of low-carbon, synthetic gasoline from renewable-based hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide (CO2).
The e-fuel technology, built on a circular carbon economy approach, has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by over 70 percent on a complete life cycle basis, compared to conventional fuels. Once complete, the integrated facility will generate 12 tons of synthetic methanol per day from green hydrogen and CO2, using proprietary technologies developed by ThyssenKrupp Uhde. The synthetic methanol will then be converted into low-carbon gasoline using ExxonMobil’s Fluidized-Bed Methanol-to-Gasoline (MtG) technology.
The HIDC will also produce green hydrogen by leveraging an on-site 20-megawatt electrolyzer, powered by renewable energy sources. The innovation center being created by ENOWA will showcase the region’s vast potential to generate and use wind and solar power commercially.
Aramco has been exploring technologies for low-carbon synthetic fuels for several years. The demonstration plant in NEOM is the result of intensive research and development efforts aiming to optimize the production of synthetic fuels. Similarly, ENOWA sees e-fuels as a critical future portfolio element of a circular carbon economy, helping to reduce emissions and validating next-generation green fuel technologies for future large-scale projects.
Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, Aramco Executive Vice President of Technology & Innovation, said: “Synthetic fuels can play an important role to accelerate the decarbonization of the global vehicle fleet. We are excited to be working alongside our partners to demonstrate a potential path towards realizing this vision.”
Through a joint development agreement, NEOM will oversee the construction of the plant, while Aramco and ENOWA will jointly oversee operations and investment in relevant research programs.
Peter Terium, ENOWA Chief Executive Officer, said: “This partnership represents another significant milestone for ENOWA. As Saudi Arabia cements its global leadership role in a circular carbon economy driven by green hydrogen, we have an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the transformative capabilities of pioneering, sustainable technologies. ENOWA is looking forward to collaborating with Aramco in the development of a state-of-the-art facility for e-fuels in NEOM, which will drive innovation and promote the economic implementation of future clean energy supplies.”
Roland Kaeppner, ENOWA Managing Director of Hydrogen and Green Fuels, said: “The project is a concrete example of the circular carbon economy in action, and an example of ENOWA’s commitment to supporting Saudi Arabia’s mission to rapidly scale climate action by championing scientific innovation. As one of the first anchor tenants of the HIDC, the facility is a strong demonstration of our shared ambition with Aramco to deliver front-running projects which continue to innovate on the latest technologies.”
The integrated e-fuel facility will demonstrate technical feasibility and commercial viability of a synthetic gasoline value-chain and is a flagship project that falls within Aramco’s wider research, development and demonstration efforts with low-carbon, synthetic fuels.
In 2022, Aramco announced a partnership with Formula 2 and 3 to explore the introduction of synthetic components in fuel formulation to power the motorsports feeder series. Separately, Aramco and Repsol are planning to explore the production demonstration of low-carbon synthetic diesel and jet fuel for automobiles and aircraft.
Aramco’s Transport Technologies R&D, with a presence in Paris, Detroit, Shanghai, and the headquarters in Dhahran, is advancing multiple technologies that aim to enable a more reliable, affordable, and sustainable transport future.