Aramco and ENOWA team up to develop synthetic e-fuel demonstration plant

Aramco, an integrated energy and chemicals company, and ENOWA, NEOM’s energy and water company, have signed a joint development agreement to construct and establish a synthetic electro-fuel (e-fuel) demonstration plant.

Courtesy of Aramco

NEOM will oversee the construction of the plant, while Aramco and ENOWA will jointly oversee operations and investment in relevant research programs.

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 from renewable-based hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide (CO2).

To note, according to Aramco, the e-fuel technology, built on a circular carbon economy approach, has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by over 70% on a complete life cycle basis, compared to conventional fuels.

Once complete, the integrated facility is expected to 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.

The HIDC is also expected to produce green hydrogen by leveraging an on-site 20 megawatt electrolyzer, powered by renewable energy sources.

Aramco, said to have been exploring technologies for low-carbon synthetic fuels for several years, noted that the demonstration plant in NEOM is the result of intensive research and development efforts aiming to optimize the production of synthetic fuels.

Similarly, according to Aramco, ENOWA sees e-fuels as a critical future portfolio element of a circular carbon economy, helping to reduce emissions and validating next-generation green fuel technologies for future large-scale projects.

Ahmad O. Al Khowaiter, Aramco Executive Vice President of Technology and Innovation, stated: “Synthetic fuels can play an important role to accelerate the decarbonization of the global vehicle fleet. We are excited to be working alongside our partners to demonstrate a potential path towards realizing this vision.”

Peter Terium, ENOWA CEO, said: “ENOWA is looking forward to collaborating with Aramco in the development of a state-of-the-art facility for e-fuels in NEOM, which will drive innovation and promote the economic implementation of future clean energy supplies.”

Roland Kaeppner, ENOWA Managing Director of Hydrogen and Green Fuels, noted: “The project is a concrete example of the circular carbon economy in action, and an example of ENOWA’s commitment to supporting Saudi Arabia’s mission to rapidly scale climate action by championing scientific innovation. As one of the first anchor tenants of the HIDC, the facility is a strong demonstration of our shared ambition with Aramco to deliver front-running projects which continue to innovate on the latest technologies.”

In regard to Aramco’s other energy endeavours, in September 2023, the company stepped into the global LNG market by signing definitive agreements to acquire a strategic minority stake in MidOcean Energy, an LNG company formed and managed by investment company EIG, for $500 million.

At the time, Amin H. Nasser, Aramco President & CEO, stated that Aramco believes that gas will be important in meeting the world’s rising need for secure, accessible and more sustainable energy.