Aramco and ENOWA collaborate on eFuel demonstration facility
Photo courtesy of Aramco

Aramco and ENOWA collaborate on eFuel demonstration facility

Aramco, based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, has teamed up with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy and water company, to establish a groundbreaking eFuel demonstration plant. The plant will be located in ENOWA’s Hydrogen Innovation and Development Center (HIDC) and aims to demonstrate technical feasibility and commercial viability by producing 35 barrels per day of low-carbon, synthetic gasoline. 

NEOM is a planned cross-border city in the Tabuk Province of northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is conceived to be a hub for technological innovation, sustainable development, and international business, intended to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil.  Its location near the Red Sea is strategic, providing access to major global trade routes. Saudi Arabia announced that it plans to invest USD500 billion in the NEOM project. 

eFuels, or synthetic fuels, are manufactured from carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen, offering a potential substitute for traditional fossil fuels. The e-fuel technology, built on a circular carbon economy approach, has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 70% on a complete life cycle basis, compared to conventional fuels. 

Once complete, the integrated facility will generate 12 tons of synthetic methanol per day from green hydrogen and CO2, using proprietary technologies developed by ThyssenKrupp Uhde. The synthetic methanol will then be converted into low-carbon gasoline using ExxonMobil’s Fluidized-Bed Methanol-to-Gasoline (MTG) technology..

This partnership’s primary objective is to explore eFuel’s production potential, focusing on scalability, economic feasibility, and environmental benefits. With rising global demand for cleaner energy solutions, this collaboration underscores the necessity for innovative endeavors in sustainable energy technologies.

Both companies share a vision of a cleaner energy future, and this eFuel plant serves as a significant step towards realizing that vision. It also highlights the role of strategic partnerships in fast-tracking advancements in the energy sector.

Tricia L. DeLaney, president of ExxonMobil Catalysts and Licensing LLC (EMCL), emphasised the pivotal role ExxonMobil’s fluid bed MTG technology could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation arena. 

“The global energy transition necessitates diverse solutions, and our MTG technology is geared up to make a significant difference,” DeLaney said.

By 2025, the licensed MTG unit is set to commence, utilising green hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2) derived methanol. This innovative process will produce a synthetic high-octane blend stock, suitable for a variety of applications, including racing.

Reflecting on the historical evolution of the methanol-to-gasoline chemistry, which was pioneered by ExxonMobil in the 1970s, DeLaney expressed her enthusiasm about Aramco adopting the MTG technology, viewing it as a stride towards a sustainable future.