S-Oil and Aramco signed a memorandum of understanding in Riyadh to strengthen cooperation in alternative energy and new petrochemical technologies. "We gained momentum to expand our horizons from oil to chemistry and push for growth strategies to prepare for the era of energy conversion," an unnamed S-Oil official said in a statement on January 19.
The two companies would push for research and development on new technologies related to hydrogen production, carbon collection, electrofuel (e-fuel), and plastic recycling. Electrofuels are an emerging class of drop-in replacement fuels that are made by storing energy from renewable sources in the chemical bonds of liquid or gas fuels, aiming to be a carbon-neutral fuel. They are an alternative to aviation biofuel.
Aramco's thermal crude to chemicals (TC2C) technology will be introduced for the second phase of S-Oil's Shaheen project to build a steam cracker that produces ethylene from naphtha and off-gas, and an olefin downstream facility that produces polyethylene and polypropylene. TC2C enables high chemicals yield and employs a proprietary direct conversion process.
Ammonia, which is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, contains no carbon but it needs pilot fuel for combustion. Ammonia fuel generation is considered an ideal eco-friendly model, but the combustion speed of ammonia as a fuel for power generation is far lower than liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is a conventional gas turbine fuel. In November 2021, South Korea launched a task force to speed up the commercialization of technologies using hydrogen and ammonia for power generation.
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