University hosts 2016 KAUST Future Fuels Workshop

​​​​​​​​​The KAUST Fuels Workshop, held from March 7 to March 9 on the University’s campus, brought some of the leading experts from academia, national laboratories and industry to KAUST to discuss the present state of affairs and future advancements in the field of combustible energy.

Throughout the three-day workshop, experts from across the globe and KAUST-based researchers discussed a wide spectrum of cutting-edge technologies relevant to fuel production, utilization and global sustainability, with an emphasis on low-grade and alternative fuels for transportation and stationary power sectors.

Various keynote addresses drew attention to the current state of and future developments in clean combustion research. One main objective of the workshop was to promote international collaborations in establishing research and development direction for diverse fuel formulation and utilization with the end goal of creating clean and efficient power generation systems.

KAUST Future Fuels Workshop

The importance of alternative energy

During his keynote address, Ahmad Al Khowaiter, chief technology officer at Saudi Aramco, touched on the continuous importance of alternative and sustainable energy and the part KAUST plays in cutting-edge research in this area.

“Early on, we looked at how KAUST could contribute to the world,” he stated. “Hydrocarbon fuels have been part of civilization and part of modern society and will be with us for a long time to come. The challenge is how to use them responsibly.”

Al Khowaiter noted there are many challenges ahead and outlined how KAUST can play a part in addressing these challenges.

“The energy challenge is too great for any one player to have an impact—there must be collaboration between government, industry and academia. It is really a global challenge and should be seen as a KAUST-leading contribution,” he said.

The future of fossil fuels

Amer Amer, fuel chief technologist of Saudi Aramco R&D, noted that the transition to solely renewable energy won’t occur anytime soon in the future without a symbiotic reliance on traditional core fuels.

“Oil will be with us for quite some time,” he said. “The best thing we can do is to improve the efficiency of current oil-based technologies.”

Dr. Jeffery Goldmeer, manager of gas turbine combustion & fuel solutions from GE Power and Water, noted that global trends in the use of alternative fuels for power generation are shifting and that Saudi Arabia is leading the world in the use of crude oils for power generation.

The end results

Workshop guests gained unique insight into the future of fuel research, and the Future Fuels Workshop ensured that many new initiatives and worldwide collaborations will be taken on board stemming directly and indirectly from the Kingdom.

KAUST Clean Combustion Research Center (CCRC) Director and workshop co-chair William Roberts closed out the workshop, noting, “We’ve had a very nice three days. The program was very well done, and I would especially like to thank those of you who came a long distance to be here.”

- By David Murphy, KAUST News