Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center, through its work with FUELCOM, has made headway with several technologies that could alter the landscape of personal mobility. FUELCOM, or the Fuel and Combustion for Advanced Engines program, is a 10-year collaborative research undertaking that launched in 2013 between Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center (R&DC) and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Clean Combusion Research Center (KAUST-CCRC). Research in Fuels and Engines The program researches hydrocarbon fuel combustion in engines, allowing scientists to develop oil derived fuels that are suitable for the next generation of high efficiency and low emission combustion engines. One example of their work is the development a promising engine fuel concept that could enable diesel-like levels of efficiency, but with far lower pollutant emissions. This translates into fewer carbon emissions, and more miles per gallon. This work will set a new course for the auto industry and influence the design of cars that we’ll drive in the future. “This research pushes the boundaries of what we know about the combustion of oil-based fuels,” said Amer A. Amer of Saudi Aramco’s R&DC. “Saudi Aramco wants to be at the forefront of creating perfect fuels and perfect engines, in synergy.” “For decades, automotive engine design has been conducted in a vacuum, simply striving for improvements to the combustion engine itself, without altering the fuel that goes inside,” said professor Mani Sarathy from KAUST-CCRC. “By understanding how fuels behave in engines, we have the chance to further improve the engine design. You can now begin to think about altering fuels such that they are better optimized for a particular engine or combustion system.” Success Stories Saudi Aramco’s FUELCOM initiative has produced a number of accomplishments in combustion science, including:
- The development of AramcoMech, a state-of-the-art chemical kinetic model capable of describing hydrocarbon fuel oxidation in a variety of combustion systems, in 2013. AramcoMech’s capabilities will soon include describing combustion emissions, including the formation of soot.
- The development of the Aramco KAUST Fuel Design Tool, which complements AramcoMech in that it can be used to develop surrogate fuels that match the physical and chemical properties of real fuels. The tool will soon be made openly available to benefit the broader combustion research community.
- The establishment of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute.