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Center of Excellence in Petrochemicals (KOPRC)


KACST and the University of Oxford established a joint research center for projects in petrochemicals and oil refinery field. The center was established in 2010 at the Chemistry Department at the university under the name "KACST OXFORD Petrochemical Research Centre".

This joint scientific cooperation is considered as the first of its type in the Arab world in the field of petrochemicals research and it falls within the strategic plan for science and technology set by KACST. This collaboration also includes sending Saudi students for graduate studies at the University of Oxford within the work of the center's projects.

The research in KOPRC focuses on developing petrochemicals processes and developing active catalysts. KOPRC is considered the umbrella comprising several collaborations in petrochemicals with several high-class universities, such as Cambridge University, Imperial College, and Cardiff University.


The objective is to develop a new catalyst and a new blend of hydrocarbon components based on a new  alkylation process using solid catalyst.

The objective of this project is to prepare some catalyst nanoparticles miscible with diesel and heavy oil for a fully converted hydrocarbons in the exhaust system into CO2 during combustion and a decrease in NOx and SOx emissions.

The interaction of CO2 and other chemicals, such as heavy oil, olefin, hydrogen, acetylene and ketone, over various catalyst surfaces will be studied in this project.

The objective is to develop a process and a catalyst that produces high yield of low olefins from oil residue from Saudi refineries and bunker oil.

A central catalyst with a better chain growth control capability will be designed and developed in addition to a monomer interaction with the catalyst and its mechanism will be studied.

In 2013, KOPRC was expanded to include other universities beside Oxford University, such as Cambridge University, Imperial College, and Cardiff University. KACST has supported five research projects for this expansion and allowed more students to involve as follow:

  • Crude Oil Conversion to High Value Chemical.
  • Vapor Phases Synthesis of Propylene Oxide.
  • New Generation of High-Performance Solid Acid Catalysts.
  • Highly Efficient Nano-particulate Au Catalysts and Size-induced Metal-Insulator Transition.

Nanostructured Catalysts for Direct Selective Oxidation of Methane and Light Hydrocarbons to Oxygenate.