Crude Oil-to-Chemicals Conference lays foundation for innovative sustainable technologies

Many government, industry and academia representatives came to KAUST on October 23-25 to attend the Crude Oil to Chemicals Innovxxative Technologies Conference. The conference was organized by KAUST, Saudi Aramco and the Ministry of Energy to promote cleaner, more sustainable, and cost-effective methods in the fields of energy and petrochemicals. Three main topics were covered: 1) novel potential catalysts for oil-to-chemicals conversion, 2) process development and optimization to accelerate innovative technologies, and 3) fundamental approaches to oil-to-chemicals conversion.

The conference was chaired by Professor Jorge Gascon, Director of the KAUST Catalysis Center (KCC), Khalid Al-Majnouni, Research Science Consultant at Saudi Aramco, and Haleema Al-Amri, Director of the Energy Technology Observatory Department at the Ministry of Energy.

“Together with Aramco, the KAUST Catalysis Center started 6 years ago as a program to develop new-generation technologies for the direct conversion of crude oil to valuable chemicals in one single step,” said Gascon.

KCC research has resulted in more than 15 patents, an operating pilot unit and bigger pilots in the design phase. “We expect that our technology will reach commercial maturity in a few years,” he continued.

During the conference, KAUST signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Aramco, the Ministry of Energy, and the Oil Sustainability Program to develop technologies to convert crude oil into chemicals.

Emphasizing the collaboration with Aramco and the Ministry of Energy, Gascon said, “This is a dream collaboration where scientists, engineers, and policymakers work together with the objective of bringing to the market disruptive technologies invented and developed in the Kingdom.”

He added that oil-to-chemicals technologies contribute to a much more efficient and sustainable use of hydrocarbons. “They are key to a very important paradigm shift in which we prioritize the use of oil for the manufacture of durable carbon materials rather than for the manufacture of fuels,” he said.