The Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC) at KAUST has established a long-term research and development collaboration program with Saudi Aramco's Fuel Technology Team (FTT). Both parterns bring complementary expertise and knowledge base to work on fuel formulation, engine efficiency and environmental considerations.
Petroleum derived fuels are highly advantageous due to their high energy density and ability to be conveniently stored and transported. For these reasons, the vast majority of the global transportation sector utilizes petroleum-derived fuels. For example, over 70% of petroleum in the US is utilized in automotive, air, and marine traffic applications, all of which use internal combustion engines of one form or another. Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest oil producer, so it is important for it to develop a fuel formulation strategy that enables market leadership in blending fuels for current and emerging internal combustion engine cycles. Furthermore, the profitability is directly linked to the fuel blending strategy.
In order to achieve future fuel economy and emissions targets, development is needed of advanced engine technologies and these technologies should be developed in concert with advanced fuel formulations. Novel engine technologies, shown in Fig. 1, such as low temperature combustion (LTC), premixed charge compression ignition (PCCI), homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), and spark-assisted compression ignition (SACI) have the ability to significantly improve energy efficiency in the automotive sector. These technologies can achieve thermal efficiencies greater than 50% and low emission levels by exploiting the high compression ratios of diesel engines and near uniform mixture of gasoline engines. The result is diesel-like engine efficiency with reduced engine-out NOx and PM emissions.
Figure 1 – Pictorial representation of advanced low temperature combustion engine technologies
The major challenge with the
implementation of these advanced engine technologies is tailoring the
fuel formulation to optimize ignition and combustion processes. These
engines will operate under extreme conditions, and thus a fundamental
understanding of combustion behavior at these extreme conditions becomes
more crucial for the design of future fuel formulations.