Aramco opens R&D center in Detroit area


The Aramco Research Center-Detroit was inaugurated today as one of three U.S.-based research and development (R&D) centers aimed at expanding the global research capabilities of Saudi Aramco, the leading global integrated energy and chemicals company.

The new facility – located in Novi, Michigan, and owned and operated by U.S. subsidiary Aramco Services Company – further strengthens the company’s global fuels research program with the goal of promoting the development and adoption of efficient, sustainable and affordable transport solutions for the future.

Aramco’s fuels technology program is focused on reducing the overall environmental impact, cost and complexity of both current and future fuel-engine systems. With a global refining presence, Aramco brings a unique perspective into how fuels can be designed and matched to engines for higher performance and lower emissions. A planned outcome of Aramco’s research is to generate vehicle and fleet demonstrations to showcase the benefits of novel fuel/engine systems.

“Fuels technology is a critical area of research for Saudi Aramco where we are leveraging on our leading position in integrated oil and gas production and refining to invest in innovative solutions that will significantly improve efficiency and lower emissions from the (production) well-head to the (car) wheel,” said Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO, Saudi Aramco, who led today’s inauguration of the center. “Opening a research center in Detroit demonstrates our commitment to enabling meaningful impacts and the Motor City gives us an ideal platform to bring the talent of Aramco’s researchers together with great collaboration partners in the heart of the U.S. automotive industry.”

Specific areas of research being conducted at Aramco’s new Detroit center include fuel combustion and emissions, technology integration and strategic transport studies. The research center is tasked with developing, demonstrating and showcasing low-carbon-footprint transportation technologies, in support of reducing CO2 emissions from transport sources.

“Aramco’s presence here contributes to our community’s tremendous growth and vibrant spirit in support of the automotive industry,” said City of Novi Mayor Bob Gatt. “Novi has become an attractive location for research, technology and service providers.”

The 50,000-square-foot Detroit research center is equipped with four state-of-the-art engine dynamometer labs, and in mid-2016, a vehicle integration lab featuring a chassis dynamometer for evaluating engine performance and identifying solutions to all types of system integration challenges. This includes ensuring that new technologies will meet vehicle performance and emissions specifications in a wide range of certification cycles under cold (20°F) and hot (120°F) conditions.

Supporting facilities include a prototype engine build lab, fabrication shop, vehicle soak room, engine start-cart lab, and associated vehicle integration facilities.

Substantial flexibility has been built into the lab’s capabilities surrounding fuel design, fuel procurement and specialty fuel distribution, including providing 12 independent fuel lines to the labs—which allows back-to-back advanced fuel testing and blending. The facility’s research capacity encompasses very small engines such as a single-cylinder research engine to 1,000 horsepower heavy-duty on-road and stationary engines.

“Aramco’s fuels research program is about contributing our expertise to finding forward-thinking ideas and unlocking the potential to develop new transport solutions,” said Saudi Aramco Chief Technology Officer Ahmad Al Khowaiter. “Fuels research is an excellent fit in our global R&D program looking at energy-industry challenges. Researchers draw on a network of company talent, industry partners and academia from around the world.”

Aramco’s global fuels research network encompasses Aramco’s Research & Development Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; a partnership with the Clean Combustion Research Center at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia; and the Aramco Fuel Research Center, Paris, with the French petroleum research institute IFPEN.

U.S. subsidiary Aramco Services Company’s other research centers are: the Aramco Research Center-Boston, in Cambridge across the street from MIT; and the Aramco Research Center-Houston, in the city’s northwest area Energy Corridor. Aramco’s other research facilities are located in Aberdeen; Delft, The Netherlands; Daejeon, Korea; Paris; and Beijing; as well as Dhahran and Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

The research centers are closely aligned with the company’s award-winning research organizations: the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center’s Advanced Research Center and the Research & Development Center located in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.


Photo caption: Amin Nasser, front and center, joins Bob Gatt, mayor of Novi, in cutting the ribbon during the inauguration of Aramco’s newest research and development center in the Detroit area suburb. Located in the heart of the U.S. automotive industry, the Aramco Research Center-Detroit becomes the latest addition to a global network of company centers working to improve engine efficiency and reduce emissions.