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Enhancing sustainability through collaboration


Scientists from Saudi Aramco’s Research and Development Center (R&DC) recently organized the eighth annual meeting of the Saudi Arabian Section of the Combustion Institute.

The meeting, held at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) in Riyadh, brought together more than 100 experts from institutions in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and the U.S. The theme of the meeting was “Clean and Efficient Utilization of Fuels for a Sustainable Future.” The meeting was jointly organized by KAPSARC and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

As a leading global exporter of energy, Saudi Arabia has an important role to play in the development of technologies that promote and enhance sustainability. The establishment of the Saudi Arabian Section in 2010 was central to this objective.

“Our local section actively supports the growth and development of the Kingdom’s young scientists,” said Kai Morganti, a scientist in the Saudi Aramco R&DC and secretary of the Saudi Arabian section. “These meetings provide a forum for networking with top researchers, disseminating knowledge, and promoting the role of combustion technology as a key pillar of sustainability.”

Improving the combustion community’s understanding of fuel engine interactions is also central to Saudi Aramco’s efforts to improve energy efficiency in the transport sector.

Environmental and social sustainability

The growing global demands for energy and environmental sustainability pose tremendous challenges and opportunities for the combustion research community.

“There is no one-fit-for-all solution to address these challenges,” said Hong Im, professor at KAUST and chairman of the Saudi Arabian Section.

Instead, synergistic integration of conventional and emerging technologies, including renewables, will be essential in delivering solutions that are both environmentally and socially sustainable. “I am proud to be part of the many world-class researchers in the Kingdom who will lead these efforts,” said Im.

Sustainability was the recurring theme in the three invited lectures at this year’s meeting. Sylvain Côté, program director for Energy Demand, Efficiency, and Productivity at KAPSARC, discussed the challenges and opportunities associated with the transition to renewable energy in the Kingdom. Among these, Côté highlighted the need for targeted policy action by the government to help alleviate an anticipated skills gap.

“Although the emerging renewable energy sector is expected to provide new jobs, it is equally important to recognize the limitation and reflect on the adjustment and reform efforts needed. If not, the current labor mismatch could represent a lost opportunity for the upcoming young Saudi population,” said Côté.

Anvita Arora, program director for Transport and Urban Infrastructure at KAPSARC, discussed strategies for environmentally and socially sustainable urban transport systems.

“Our research is closely aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the National Transportation Strategy, which seeks to reduce domestic dependence on oil while creating smart and sustainable cities throughout the Kingdom,” said Arora.

The final invited lecture was delivered by Dimitrios Kyritsis, professor and chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Khalifa University in the UAE. His lecture highlighted the role of carbon capture in addressing the climate challenge, while also unlocking additional petroleum resources when used for enhanced oil recovery.

“This technology has already been deployed in the Kingdom, with approximately 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide captured and stored each year,” said Kyritsis. “Carbon capture and storage can enhance sustainability on a large-scale.”

A short history of The Combustion Institute

The Combustion Institute was founded in 1954. Its purpose is to promote and disseminate research into combustion science and engineering. It serves as the parent organization for approximately 30 local sections around the world, including Saudi Arabia. The local section was founded in 2010 with about 30 members. Today, it has grown to more than 140 members. Among other activities, the local section coordinates meetings and workshops on various aspects of combustion, sustainability, and energy conversion science.

In its eight-year history, the Saudi Arabian Section has grown in size and stature. “The section now has more than 140 members in-Kingdom,” says Maryam Al Taher, a scientist in the Saudi Aramco R&DC and co-organizer of this year’s meeting.

In recent years, the local meetings have also been attracting greater participation from high-profile international researchers.

“This reflects favorably on the standard of research undertaken in the Kingdom,” said Al Taher. “We expect the growth in both local and international participants will continue its upward trajectory in the future.” 

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