- Aramco has an interest in synthetic fuels. What do you mean by low-carbon synthetic fuels and are they all the same?
Synthetic fuel is a broad class of hydrocarbon fuels that are chemically synthesized, typically from hydrogen and CO2. However, at Aramco we are specifically interested in low-carbon synthetic fuels, which combine low-carbon hydrogen produced using renewable electricity with CO2 that is captured either directly from air or from industrial plants. The resulting fuel – in either liquid or gas form – could be engineered to be chemically similar to conventional fuels in the market, supporting a more seamless and organized energy and mobility transition.
- Why is Aramco interested in synthetic fuel?
Aramco is looking into scaling up the development of carbon capture and storage and lower-carbon hydrogen production — both of which could be key enablers in the production of synthetic fuels. When combined with our decades of experience in providing energy to the world, we believe that we have the capacity to contribute to a lower-carbon energy future.We recognize that the world needs innovative ways to meet rising demand for energy, but with lower CO2 intensity. We believe that a circular carbon economy — a framework for reducing, reusing, recycling and removing CO2 emissions — has the potential to offer a way forward. A synthetic fuel could close the loop in the carbon cycle by recycling CO2 into useful products. When produced via a lower-carbon pathway, it has the potential to offer at least 70% lifecycle GHG emission reductions compared to conventional fuels.
- What is Aramco doing in this area?
We have been researching synthetic fuels for several years now. Our global transport research network – in Saudi Arabia, France, the US, and China — have been assessing the technical and commercial viabilities of synthetic fuels jointly with our partners from the automotive and energy industries. Today, we have two major flagship projects assessing the future potentials of low-carbon synthetic fuels, one in Spain and another in Saudi Arabia.We recently partnered with Repsol to explore the production of low-carbon synthetic diesel and jet fuel in Bilbao, Spain, for automobiles and aircraft. The plan is to produce 2.6 million liters of synthetic fuels per year. On top of this, we are also assessing the feasibility of producing low-carbon synthetic gasoline in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, jointly with NEOM Energy and Water Company (ENOWA), for light-duty passenger vehicles.Moreover, we aim to test the performances of low-carbon synthetic fuels in some of the most demanding conditions – i.e., on F1 racetracks and at the World Rally Championship. Through our collaborations with F1 and P1 Racing Fuels, we are working towards supporting the FIA achieve its ambitions in sustainable motorsports, since we know from history that advanced technologies developed for these races can trickle down and benefit mainstream transportation.