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Posted: August 15, 2010
Saudi Aramco's Research Center Pioneers Nanotechnology Research
(Nanowerk News) The Research and Development Center (R&DC) is working on a new generation of materials that can address Saudi AramcoSaudi Aramco's production and operational challenges.
We are pioneering research on advanced and nano-structured materials for specific oil and gas applications, said R&DC Upstream Program director Abdullah M. Al-Houtan. We want to develop materials that will enhance reliability and improve efficiency safely and cost-effectively.
Al-Houtan said materials science has been an ongoing human endeavor for thousands of years. It has a long history under the name metallurgy, which is essentially material science for metals, he said.
Most recently, material science has focused on nanomaterials and nanotechnology and how it can be used in new ways.
Al-Houtan said R&DC's newly formed Advanced Materials Group is working on a variety of projects.
We are looking at nano-structured nickel coatings combined with carbon nano-tubes to be used for erosion and corrosion protection, he said. This project will be developed in collaboration among R&DC, Dammam College for Girls, and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.We're also developing ionic liquids for separation applications in areas such as desulphurization, salt removal and nano-particle conductivity.
Other projects include looking for membrane materials for gas separation, which is being pursued for the Natural Gas and Sulfur Utilization Project under the Downstream and Strategic R&D Program; and creating monitoring sensors to assess pipeline integrity, which is being led by one of the group's experts in fiber-optic sensor technology for the Northern Area Pipelines Department.
Putting together a strong team that can handle advanced materials for Saudi AramcoSaudi Aramco Research is a key to success, said Al-Houtan.
In fact, we have an excellent mix of both highly experienced and new Saudi post-graduate scientists.
They include Turki A. Khaldi who earned a Ph.D. from Manchester University in the U.K.; Abdullah A. Shahrani, who also earned a Ph.D. from Manchester University; and Bandar A. Fadhel, who graduated from Monash University, Australia. Several others will join the group bringing additional experience, Al-Houtan said. As important as the intellectual capital are the laboratory assets to use it.
We have state-of-the-art equipment that supports our research, Al-Houtan said. The equipment includes a plasma spray and solution-spray system, freeze drying for nano-powder production, scanning electron workstations, pulsed electroplating, jet and slurry erosion equipment, and a high-temperature system that can reach up to 1,600 degrees Celsius. Now that it's up and running, Al-Houtan sees big things ahead for the group.
Successful as we have been in our first year,â€ he said, we will continue to expand and position ourselves as a nationally and internationally recognized research group dedicated to becoming the most effective advanced materials group in the oil and gas industry for both upstream and downstream arenas