Aramco and the direct air capture of CO2

We’re leveraging local and global research networks and employing artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop the best materials for capturing CO2 from the air.

Aramco and the direct air capture of CO2

Aramco is striving to develop technologies that aim to support a lower carbon emissions future through investing in research and technology to support growth and meet global energy demand, while seeking to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net zero by 2050 from its wholly owned operated assets. 


In support of these ambitions, the company is set to advance the development of carbon emission reduction solutions, informed by the circular carbon economy principles of reduce, reuse, recycle, and remove. One of these potential solutions is carbon dioxide (CO2) direct capture from air (DAC) — a technology that aims to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for utilizing in value-added products (including lower carbon fuels) or for storage in underground formations. 


CO2 -DAC technologies could potentially play a role in meeting our GHG emission reduction ambitions, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors. The technology is at an early stage and costly, and requires significant research and development investment. Global collaboration will help to advance it — in the Kingdom and beyond.
— Ali A. Al-Meshari, senior vice president of Technology Oversight and Coordination (TOC)


Carbon removal is intended to complement the many other initiatives being rolled out across Aramco aimed at reducing emissions, such as energy efficiency initiatives, renewable energy projects, and CO2 capture from point sources (such as our Jubail hub project).


Ambitious cost targets

Faisal D. Al Otaibi, director of Aramco’s Research and Development Center (R&DC), said: “We are leveraging our local and global research networks and employing the latest tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, in an effort to develop the best materials for capturing CO2 from the air with ambitious cost targets.”


Aramco aims to use captured CO2 from the air in the production of lower carbon synthetic fuels, through two flagship demonstration projects, in collaboration with NEOM in North Western Saudi Arabia and Repsol in Bilbao, Spain.


Our journey for CO2 -DAC technologies started with the discovery of a novel capture material that has high affinity to CO2 at very low concentrations, and has successfully been scaled up.
— Aqil Jamal, chief technologist with Aramco’s Carbon Management Research Division


The project team uses the latest artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning approaches to speed up material discovery for CO2 capture, and has set up computer simulation models to evaluate process designs and establish targets for the development of the most cost-effective CO2 -DAC technology.


The novel CO2 capture material — Aramco-KAUST 7 — discovery was accomplished through effective collaboration with researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Production of the material was scaled-up for a sub-pilot facility at the R&DC.


In real life

Following successful results, the research team, in collaboration with our partners, is designing a much larger CO2-DAC test unit that is planned to be commissioned in Dhahran later this year under real life conditions. Additionally, the team is collaborating with Siemens Energy for the design of unit that is bigger still — a 1,000 ton per year CO2-DAC pilot plant that is slated to be commissioned in 2025. This test facility will also explore competing DAC technologies.


“CO2-DAC is a journey full of challenges and successes, weaving carbon capture materials from the edge of research into next generation processes, hoping we can build not only structures and systems, but a legacy for the generations to come,” said Mourad Younes, a research science consultant who is leading the project.


The success of this technology, so far, is a testament to the power of innovative talent and strategic collaboration to build a culture of excellence and efficiency, advancing technical and professional skills of the Kingdom’s next generation of scientists and engineers. 


“This project provides an ideal platform to train our young scientists and engineers in implementing the latest advances in material science and engineering for the development of cost-effective DAC technology,” said Ammar H. Alahmed, a material chemist and the group leader for the carbon capture and utilization team at R&DC.


Nawal M. Alghoraibi, a young professional and R&DC team member, said, “I am fascinated by the intricate and groundbreaking work in material development and testing, which provides an opportunity to glimpse into the future.” 


Alghoraibi utilized her background in chemistry to develop and formulate novel capture materials to be deployed at scale. Inspired by the complexity and novelty of carbon capture material development, she plans to advance her career through a Ph.D. program to tackle related global challenges and be at the forefront of research.  


Caption for top photo: The CO2-Direct Air Capture project team poses at the Research and Development Center in Dhahran.


You are currently using an older browser. Please note that using a more modern browser such as Microsoft Edge might improve the user experience. Download Microsoft Edge