Saudi Aramco seeks to overhaul engines and fuel amid electric vehicle hype

An electric plug is seen during the press day at the 89th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP)
Updated 06 March 2019

Saudi Aramco seeks to overhaul engines and fuel amid electric vehicle hype

  • Diesel has proven a key cause of health-threatening nitrogen oxide pollution
  • Saudi Aramco is working on gasoline compression ignition which mixes fuel and air more effectively prior to combustion

GENEVA: More efficient fuels and more sophisticated combustion engines are needed to bring down carbon dioxide pollution and to secure the long-term future of Saudi Aramco’s business, the company’s chief technology officer said on Wednesday.
“The growth of transport is greater than the growth of alternative drivetrains,” Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, Chief Technology Officer at Saudi Aramco told journalists at the Geneva car show.
The spike in electric car production in Europe will not offset an overall increase in global greenhouse gas emissions as emerging economies industrialize and buy cars with petrol and diesel engines, Al-Khowaiter said.
“Improving combustion engines is key to sustaining our business in the long term,” he said.
While carmakers have rolled out advances in combustion engine technology, the availability of sophisticated fuels has not kept pace, Al-Khowaiter said.
Diesel became an industry standard more than 100 years ago and has remained popular mainly because it did not evaporate quickly, making it safer to handle during storage and refueling.
“Rudolf Diesel did not consider fuels which evaporated easily. That was an accident of history,” Al-Khowaiter said, referring to the German founder of the diesel engine technology.
But diesel has proven a key cause of health-threatening nitrogen oxide pollution, which is blamed for respiratory diseases, forcing the industry to explore ways to cut emissions.
“We can now optimize the fuel and the engine at the same time. And we can bring it to market by adding another fuel pump at the gas station, just like it is done with higher octane fuels,” Al-Khowaiter said.
“We do the patents on the fuel development to enable the engines to be efficient,” the executive said.
Saudi Aramco is working on gasoline compression ignition which mixes fuel and air more effectively prior to combustion, resulting in lower nitrogen oxide and soot emissions and a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy.
The petrochemicals giant is also helping to develop mobile carbon capture technologies which could be built into next generation passenger cars for around $1,400 per vehicle, and help to cut carbon dioxide emissions.


Screen star Shahad Ballan in new anti-speeding campaign

Shahad Ballan has joined forces with Dubai Autodrome for her new campaign. (Supplied)
Updated 04 February 2020

Screen star Shahad Ballan in new anti-speeding campaign

  • Shahad Ballan’s new campaign aims to safely channel youths’ desire for speed while driving

DUBAI: Syrian TV presenter Shahad Ballan has joined forces with Dubai Autodrome, the UAE’s motorsports and entertainment complex, in a new campaign called #SpeedLegally, which aims to safely channel youths’ desire for speed while driving.

“The whole point of the campaign is to tell people it’s OK if you like to speed. At the end of the day, people like this rush and adrenaline,” Ballan told Arab News.

Ballan hopes that by teaching youngsters to only speed on race tracks, it could lower the number of crashes on the UAE’s roads. (Supplied)

“Adrenaline is a hormone in our body. We can’t ignore that … Instead of just fighting it, let us encourage youngsters who like to speed to release this energy that they have and practice their love for speed and driving in designated areas such as race tracks.”

At Dubai Autodrome, people can book sessions to race using their own cars or those available there.

“It’s all about discipline,” Ballan said. “When you’re angry or stressed or excited, you release your energy in different ways. Some people eat, some people go to the gym, some people do kickboxing. So this call to action is the same thing.”

At Dubai Autodrome, people can book sessions to race using their own cars or those available there. (Supplied)

She hopes that by teaching youngsters to only speed on race tracks, it could lower the number of crashes on the UAE’s roads.

According to figures from the Interior Ministry, 3,123 people were killed and 31,829 injured in car crashes from 2014 to 2018.

Ballan herself was inspired by a crash she was involved in four years ago. “I wasn’t the one driving in the accident. I was with a driver,” she said.

“We weren’t the cause of the accident. Another driver … was going over the speed limit on the highway.”