The 2.2GW Neom green hydrogen megaproject is to use one of its test electrolysers to supply green hydrogen to a pilot e-fuels facility run by Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco, producing 35 barrels a day of synthetic gasoline from green hydrogen and captured CO2.
A 20MW alkaline electrolyser supplied by Thyssenkrupp Nucera — the first of 2.2GW set to be installed for the wider Neom green hydrogen and ammonia complex — will supply eight tonnes of H2 per day to the Aramco initiative.
Both the electrolyser and e-fuels project will be located at the Hydrogen and Innovation Development Centre (HIDC), developed by the Neom Green Hydrogen Company (NGHC) and local utility Enowa, due to start operations next year.
The 20MW electrolyser will be installed at HIDC for test purposes ahead of the installation of 2GW of electrolysis capacity at the nearby Neom green hydrogen and ammonia complex — set for first production in 2026.
Air Products will offtake all the green ammonia volumes from the GW-scale complex.
Aramco expects to convert the eight tonnes hydrogen from HIDC to 12 tonnes of methanol per day using technology supplied by Thyssenkrupp Uhde, before using a fluidised bed reactor from ExxonMobil to further process the methanol into synthetic gasoline.
Hydrogen Insight has reached out to Aramco for further detail on how the company will source CO2 for the pilot project.
The Saudi oil company already has a partnership in place with Formula 2 and 3 to “explore the introduction of synthetic components in fuel formulation” for motorsports — although it is unclear to what degree the e-fuels produced at Neom will be used, if at all.
However, last month, Aramco and Stellantis announced that their testing has demonstrated that synthetic fuels — despite having some different chemical properties to their fossil equivalents — can be used as a drop-in fuel for 24 engine types used across 28 million existing vehicles in Europe.
E-fuels have been controversial as a route for reducing road transport emissions. While on paper, they are carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative depending on the source of the CO2, they inherently produce greenhouse gases on combustion — requiring a strict accounting of avoided emissions throughout the process of production.
They have also been criticised as a less efficient use of renewable electricity than powering battery-electric vehicles, while justifying continued use of internal combustion engine vehicles—which will continue to run on conventional fuels without a mandate to use e-fuels due to the significant cost associated with synthetic fuels.