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Aramco opens R&D center in Detroit area; fuels research with focus on novel fuels/engines systems for reduced CO2

The Aramco Research Center-Detroit was inaugurated as one of three US-based research and development (R&D) centers aimed at expanding the global research capabilities of Saudi Aramco, the leading global integrated energy and chemicals company. The new facility, located in Novi, Mich., and owned and operated by US subsidiary Aramco Services Company, further strengthens the company’s global fuels research program.

Aramco’s fuels technology program is focused on reducing the overall environmental impact, cost and complexity of both current and future fuel-engine systems. With a global refining presence, Aramco brings a perspective into how fuels can be designed and matched to engines for higher performance and lower emissions. A planned outcome of Aramco’s research is to generate vehicle and fleet demonstrations to showcase the benefits of novel fuel/engine systems.

Fuels technology is a critical area of research for Saudi Aramco where we are leveraging on our leading position in integrated oil and gas production and refining to invest in innovative solutions that will significantly improve efficiency and lower emissions from the (production) well-head to the (car) wheel.

Opening a research center in Detroit demonstrates our commitment to enabling meaningful impacts and the Motor City gives us an ideal platform to bring the talent of Aramco’s researchers together with great collaboration partners in the heart of the U.S. automotive industry.

—Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco

Specific areas of research being conducted at Aramco’s new Detroit center include fuel combustion and emissions, technology integration and strategic transport studies.

The research center is tasked with developing, demonstrating and showcasing low-carbon-footprint transportation technologies, in support of reducing CO2 emissions from transport sources.

The 50,000-square-foot Detroit research center is equipped with four state-of-the-art engine dynamometer labs, and in mid-2016, a vehicle integration lab featuring a chassis dynamometer for evaluating engine performance and identifying solutions to all types of system integration challenges. This includes ensuring that new technologies will meet vehicle performance and emissions specifications in a wide range of certification cycles under cold (20°F) and hot (120°F) conditions.

Supporting facilities include a prototype engine build lab, fabrication shop, vehicle soak room, engine start-cart lab, and associated vehicle integration facilities.

Substantial flexibility has been built into the lab’s capabilities surrounding fuel design, fuel procurement and specialty fuel distribution, including providing 12 independent fuel lines to the labs—which allows back-to-back advanced fuel testing and blending.

The facility’s research capacity encompasses very small engines such as a single-cylinder research engine to 1,000 horsepower heavy-duty on-road and stationary engines.

Aramco’s global fuels research network encompasses Aramco’s Research & Development Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; a partnership with the Clean Combustion Research Center at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia; and the Aramco Fuel Research Center, Paris, with the French petroleum research institute IFPEN.

US subsidiary Aramco Services Company’s other research centers are: the Aramco Research Center-Boston, in Cambridge across the street from MIT; and the Aramco Research Center-Houston, in the city’s northwest area Energy Corridor. Aramco’s other research facilities are located in Aberdeen; Delft, The Netherlands; Daejeon, Korea; Paris; and Beijing; as well as Dhahran and Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

The research centers are closely aligned with the company’s award-winning research organizations: the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center’s Advanced Research Center and the Research & Development Center located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

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