Saudi Aramco hybrid engine to cut car pollutants

Saudi Aramco has for years invested in research and development in engine technology and fuel efficiency as part of its sustainability strategy. (AFP/File)
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Updated 27 April 2020

Saudi Aramco hybrid engine to cut car pollutants

  • The design was developed in collaboration with scientists in China
  • Many countries have called for bans on traditional petrol engines over the next two decades

DUBAI: A new hybrid electric-petrol engine reducing harmful  greenhouse gasses by 50 percent could be developed from a study by scientists at Saudi Aramco and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Developed in collaboration with scientists in China, it could bridge the gap between traditional internal combustion engines and the next generation of fully electric motor engines. It was unveiled in a paper published in the prestigious journal Applied Energy.

Advanced gasoline compression-ignition (GCI), in conjunction with varying battery sizes and cleaner types of petrol — like that refined from Saudi crude — could provide “an orderly transition toward a more sustainable transport future,” the paper said.

Many countries have called for bans on traditional petrol engines over the next two decades, as concerns rise about the effects of environmental pollution and climate change.

Aramco has for years invested in research and development in engine technology and fuel efficiency as part of its sustainability strategy, with centers studying the issue of pollutant emissions in Paris, Detroit and Shanghai.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Aramco team warned that the move toward more efficient electric engines depends significantly on the sourcing and cost of raw materials used in battery production, and on how the electricity is produced to charge electric vehicles.
  • Electrification trends worldwide are driving automakers toward larger batteries as a means to increase a vehicle’s all-electric range, but there is a risk attached: The geographical distributions of critical metals used in battery technologies are uneven.
  • Two mining countries account for about 70 percent of worldwide supplies of lithium, cobalt and graphite. China and Australia are the two biggest producers of ‘rare earth’ metals.

But the Aramco team warned that the move toward more efficient electric engines depends significantly on the sourcing and cost of raw materials used in battery production, and on how the electricity is produced to charge electric vehicles.

“Climate change and mineral resourcing are inextricably linked,” said Amir Abdul-Manan, head of the Aramco team working in China with Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“A disorderly mobility transition worldwide could stress the supply of critical raw materials for battery production, possibly risking adverse ecological impacts particularly in mining countries, and potentially creating supply-chain vulnerability.”

The paper said electrification trends worldwide are driving automakers toward larger batteries as a means to increase a vehicle’s all-electric range, but there is a risk attached: The geographical distributions of critical metals used in battery technologies are uneven. 

Two mining countries account for about 70 percent of worldwide supplies of lithium, cobalt and graphite. China and Australia are the two biggest producers of “rare earth” metals.

“There is a real risk here that we are trending toward a less efficient use of scarce minerals at a time when there is growing constraints on our global resources,” Abdul-Manan said.

The paper confirmed earlier findings by researchers that the actual climate benefit of an electric vehicle would critically depend on how the electricity is produced. 

In regions with high penetration of low-carbon electricity, such as the use of nuclear in France or hydroelectric in China’s Sichuan province, electric vehicles have even greater emissions-reduction potential.


Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts

Updated 02 June 2020

Oil surges on hopes of new deal on output cuts

  • Brent price has doubled in five weeks
  • OPEC talks may be brought forward

DUBAI: Oil prices surged toward $40 a barrel on Monday as hopes rose for an early agreement to extend the big production cuts agreed by Saudi Arabia and Russia under the OPEC+ alliance.

Brent, the global benchmark, jumped by more 9 percent to nearly $39, continuing the surge that has doubled the price in five weeks — the best performance in its history. It recovered after record supply cuts agreed between the 23 countries of the OPEC+ partnership, and enforced cuts in US shale oil.

DME Oman crude, the regional benchmark in which a lot of Saudi Aramco exports are priced, rose above $40 a barrel for the first time since early March.

Market sentiment was buoyed by the possibility that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would agree with non-OPEC members to extend the cuts for a longer period than was agreed in April.

Oil analysts expect OPEC to fast track a “virtual” meeting to formally agree to maintaining cuts at the record 9.7 million barrels a day level. The meeting was scheduled for June 9, but bringing it forward would allow producers more time to set pricing levels.

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An official with one OPEC delegation told Arab News there was consensus among the 23 OPEC+ members for the new date, which could be as early as June 4. The meeting will also consider how long the current level of cuts would be maintained. Some OPEC members want it to run to the end of the year, other producers would prefer a two-month extension.

Omar Najia, global head of derivatives with trader BB Energy, told a forum run by Gulf Intelligence consultancy: “I’d be amazed if OPEC did not extend the higher level of cuts. As long as Saudi Arabia and Russia continue saying nice things to each other I’d expect the rally to continue.”

A Moscow source close to the oil industry said energy officials there had come to the conclusion that “the deal is working” and it was important to keep prices at an “acceptable” level.

Sentiment was also affected by a comparatively high level of compliance with the new cuts, running at about 75 percent among OPEC+ members, with only Iraq and Nigeria noticeable under-compliers.

Robin Mills, chief executive of Qamar Energy, said: “That’s where I’d expect it to be after two months in such a fluid situation. It will be even better in June.”