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)
Short Url
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.


Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

Updated 09 August 2020

Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

  • Aramco see’s “partial recovery” from pandemic impact
  • Aramco president says company remains resilient

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, reported a net income of $6.57bn for the second quarter of 2020, the period which witnessed the most volatile oil market conditions for many decades.

The result, announced to the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh where the shares are listed, compared with income of $24.7 bn last year.

Amin Nasser, president and chief executive, said: “Despite COVID-19 bringing the world to a standstill, Aramco kept going. We have proven our financial resilience and operational reliability, setting a record in our business operations, while at the same time taking steps to ensure the health and safety of our people.”

Aramco’s dividend - a big attraction for the investors who bought into the world’s biggest initial public offering last year - will remain as pledged, Nasser added. Cash flow in the quarter amounted to $6.106 bn.

““Strong headwinds from reduced demand and lower oil prices are reflected in our second quarter results. Yet we delivered solid earnings because of our low production costs, unique scale, agile workforce, and unrivalled financial and operational strength. This helped us deliver on our plan to maintain a second quarter dividend of $18.75 billion to be paid in the third quarter,” he said.

Aramco said the loss was “mainly reflecting the impact of lower crude oil prices and declining refining and chemicals margins, partly offset by a decrease in production royalties resulting from lower crude oil prices and a decrease in the royalty rate from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, lower income taxes and zakat as a result of lower earnings, and higher other income related to sales for gas products.”

Sales and revenue in the period - which saw oil prices collapse on “Black Monday” in April - fell 57 per cent to $32.861 bn from the comparable period last year. 

Nasser said he was cautiously optimistic that the world economy was slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns.

“We are seeing a partial recovery in the energy market as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies. Meanwhile, we continue to place people’s safety first and have adapted to the new normal, implementing wide-ranging precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 wherever we operate.

“We are determined to emerge from the pandemic stronger and will continue making progress on our long-term strategic journey, through ongoing investments in our business – which has one of the lowest upstream carbon footprints in the world,” he added.

Aramco expects capital expenditure to be at the lower end of the $25bn to $30bn range it has already indicated for this year.