KAUST Ph.D. student wins 2021 IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award

Muhammad Akram Karimi, KAUST Ph.D. student and co-founder of the KAUST-supported startup company Saher Flow Solutions.
By David Murphy

Muhammad Akram Karimi, KAUST Ph.D. student and co-founder of the KAUST-supported startup company Saher Flow Solutions, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 IEEE Sensors Council Technical Achievement Award in the Field of Sensors – Early Career. The award honors an individual with “outstanding technical contributions within the scope of the IEEE Sensors Council, as documented by publications and patents. It is based on the general quality and originality of contributions.”

The prestigious IEEE award recognizes Karimi's efforts to commercialize innovative Dual Mutually Orthogonal Resonator (DMOR®) based microwave sensors for the oil and gas industry. He will be presented with the award at the upcoming IEEE SENSORS 2021 Virtual Conference.

“This is the most competitive and prestigious award from IEEE Sensors Council, and winning this is the testimony of the high-quality work done during Akram’s Ph.D. and its significance for the local as well as the global oil industry,” Professor Atif Shamim noted.

Optimizing the future of in-Kingdom oil well performance

As a member of Professor Atif Shamim’s Integrated Microwave Packaging Antennas and Circuits Technology (IMPACT Lab), Karimi received funding support from Saudi Aramco to carry out his innovative Ph.D. research. The collaboration resulted in Aramco installing several of Karimi’s sensors in their oil fields throughout the Kingdom. The IMPACT lab-driven research also resulted in the creation of Saher Flow Solutions—a multiphase meter (MPFM) company he co-founded with Professor Shamim.

Saher’s DMOR® technology accurately measures the amount of water in the production fluid to optimize oil recovery. It also overcomes current shortcomings found in MPFM technology, including radioactivity, flow regime dependency, and an inability to operate in certain conditions without requiring frequent recalibrations.

The continued development of MPFM technology is of enormous significance to the global oil and gas industry. The team at Sahar believe their ability to manufacture meters locally at a considerably reduced cost, coupled with their superior DMOR® technology, will translate into an optimized oil production process, eventually lowering the price of oil per barrel in the Kingdom.

“Our technology possesses several key advantages over its competition: it offers decreased calibration requirement, accurate sensing in varying salinity and temperature conditions, flow regime independent measurement, and digital cloud-based data access,” Karimi explained.

“We are on a mission to modernize oil fields around the world by digitizing the oil and gas wells. With Saher’s sensors, production engineers can monitor and control their fields irrespective of location, whether in the deep-sea or the desert. With all the key information available at a click of a button, oil companies can save significantly on their operating expense (OPEX),” he added.

“The oil and gas industry is the backbone of Kingdom’s economy and KAUST is doing its part to boost Kingdom’s economy by creating innovative startups. Saher Flow Solutions is a good example of this where we are bringing innovative solutions to the oil industry for efficient oil recovery as well as for digitization of the complete process. We believe that Saher Flow Solutions will play a major role in modernization of the oil and gas industry in the near future,” Shamim concluded.