Saudi Aramco’s new High- Throughput Research Laboratory (HTR-Lab) in Dhahran – the first of its kind in the Middle East – is accelerating cutting-edge discoveries into advanced chemicals technologies.
Rather than the more traditional testing of one catalyst at a time, the lab uses purpose-built robots and high-throughput reactors to simultaneously test multiple research outcomes.
The HTRLab is one component of Saudi Aramco’s significant preparation for the production of high-value petrochemicals from crude oil, supporting the company’s efforts to address global climate change by enabling experimentation in chemicals, fuels and carbon dioxide (CO2) utilisation technologies.
Conventional research timelines are being reduced by half at the new HTR-Lab – the first catalysis research laboratory of its kind in the Middle East — where unprecedented cuttingedge discoveries of advanced chemical technologies are being enabled with increasing frequency.
This innovative, custom-built research “laboratory of the future” will boost Aramco’s research and development capabilities, and help bring its catalytic technologies more rapidly to market.
Behind the rapid results from the HTR-Lab are robust and flexible catalyst evaluation pieces of equipment of varying capacities, which are seamlessly integrated and simultaneously being used by scientists to quickly produce breakthrough research outcomes with a substantively wider range of findings.
The primary function of the HTR-Lab is to target the company’s high priority sustainability themes, spanning “crude to chemicals,” “oil to hydrogen,” and “passenger transport,” as well as other areas relevant to the expansion of the company’s chemicals business.
Chief technology officer Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter explained that the exceptional results are being facilitated by the capability of the HTR-Lab’s customised equipment to process multiple catalysts at one time, providing for a massive increase in research throughput.
“Once the idea is tested, specialised analysis software is used to rapidly study the massive amount of data from the tested dozens of catalysts to uncover efficiencies,” said Al-Khowaiter.
“The lab accelerates the discovery of technologies, reduces timelines for commercialisation, and dramatically reduces cost and risk.”
The HTR-Lab was inaugurated in late July by the Saudi Aramco Technology Council, led by Saudi Aramco’s president and CEO, Amin Nasser. The newly formed research laboratory was the first of its kind in the region and on par with the best in the world, Nasser noted.