It is pleasing to see that Ladybird Books (which publishes mass-market children's books) has published a title on Climate Change which has been co-authored by HRH the Prince of Wales.
The book, Climate Change, provides a short-format guide to the key scientific facts central to climate change. It explains the history, dangers and challenges of global warming and explores possible solutions to limit future changes to the climate. The book discusses the causes of climate disruption, such as heatwaves, floods and other extreme weather, and the consequences for people, wildlife and businesses.
This book should provide an educational reference point for young children on the issue of climate change and should be widely welcomed. And of course purchased by all those who want to see Climate Change education started from the grass roots level, for their children and grand children
Overall good progress is being made with the experience gained in both monitoring and modelling from demonstration and pilot projects. There is real progress in streamlining MMV at projects and reducing the costs of monitoring. Several sites have now demonstrated conformance of a modelling-monitoring loop, leading to an improvement in the understanding of this principle.
Key monitoring discussion points:
- The use of fibre-optic distributed acoustic sensors (DAS) at projects, including helical configured cables to overcome the limitations of directional signals.
- Reducing the level (and cost) of monitoring for commercial scale projects compared with the initial research-orientated projects. This is now happening at Shell’s QUEST project in Alberta where the research team are able to streamline their initial modelling, monitoring and verification (MMV) strategy without losing monitoring effectiveness, including the use of a new laser-based low-cost leakage detection technique over the well area.
- This reduced monitoring principle was also studied in the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) plan for Occidental’s CO2-EOR project.
- Leakage detection discussions were centred on the temporal and spatial complexity of near surface baselines and the implications for near-surface monitoring, its purpose, optimization and value to stakeholders, and hence the need for attribution methodologies to identify genuine leakage. An example from Japan on a new technique for doing this for offshore leakage was presented.
Key modelling discussion points:
- The complexities and challenges of upscaling from pore to core to reservoir, highlighting the importance of the influence of heterogeneity in the reservoir.
- Modelling flow in wellbores was discussed with several examples showing that it can require a different modelling approach.
- The US DOE’s (Department of Energy) NRAP programme has produced 10 ‘tools’ for reduced-order modelling of CO2 storage, these have been beta-tested and useful feedback was given in a dedicated session.
CO2 capture from natural gas (NG) can be done by several technologies, e.g. solvent scrubbing, membranes, adsorption or cryogenic processes. The future demand in NG might trigger development of NG fields with high CO2 partial pressure, for which pressure swing adsorption (PSA) processes could be more suitable than the other options. Besides, PSA processes have the potential to reduce energy consumption and costs. Hence, there is a requirement to evaluate the feasibility of PSA processes for CO2 capture from NG at high pressures.
The aim of this work was to evaluate PSA processes for removal of CO2 from NG at high pressure. For this, the study performed a techno-economic comparison of PSA with an amine based solvent process and identified candidate materials for the PSA process. Researchers from SINTEF Chemistry & Materials and SINTEF Energy Research have carried out this study for IEAGHG.
The key messages from the report are:
- An iterative pathway was applied to find a PSA cycle design with maximum CO2 purity. The final design consists of a 12-column multi-feed cycle with around 85% CO2 purity and is the first reported design for the separation of CO2 and CH4 at a pressure of 70 bar and flowrates of 500 000 Sm³/h.
- The final PSA design has about 50% higher costs of CO2 removal (including CO2 conditioning, transport and storage) and NG sweetening than the reference amine process. However, the process is not yet optimised, so there is ample room for improvement.
- Data availability for suitable adsorbent materials is severely limited. This study used a carbon molecular sieve (CMS) and identified other materials worthwhile of further investigation, such as certain zeolites, titanosilicates, metal organic frameworks (MOFs), zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) and honeycomb monoliths.
- A combined approach of material and process optimisation could significantly reduce the cost of the proposed PSA design, potentially even below the cost for the reference case of amine scrubbing.
- Improving the feasibility of the PSA process for CO2 capture from NG requires more work in several areas. This includes optimisation of the PSA cycle to minimise NG losses, investigation of novel cycle concepts (e.g. hybrid of single and dual PSA), evaluation of advanced adsorption materials and data for suitable adsorbents at high pressure. This is basic research and modelling work that should be taken up by related research groups from academia and industry.
The Early Career Researcher Winter School held at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training took place last week and with thanks to the UKCCSRC I was able to attend. It was a busy week with 7 keynote speakers covering topics including geological storage, the current status of CCS both internationally and in the UK, the economics and financing of projects and the energy industry as a whole.
The group work involved looking over recent UK energy sector consultation papers (a first for many in the room, myself included!). This group task gave all the attendees an insight into how their current work could fit into a larger picture and the importance evidence based policy making.
A highlight of the week was a trip to GE’s research facilities in Rugby where we were given a tour of the model turbines currently being tested. The trip gave me a new insight into the importance of the power generator’s efficiency and therefore the need for ever developing engineering research. As a geologist, I must admit the thought of learning the basics of turbine engineering was daunting but I would like the thank GE for a great overview and interesting tour!
Many thanks to everyone involved, your hard work was very much appreciated!
The 7th Korea CCUS conference was held on Jeju island on 8-10th February. This annual conference brings together all the CCUS R&D in Korea. This is a respectably-sized conference, a total number of around 300 attended over the three days to hear presentations (in English) in three parallel streams: capture; storage; and CO2 conversion; plus some policy work, and further work was presented in posters.
The conference was organised by Korea Carbon Capture and Sequestration R&D Centre (KCRC). We were very pleased to attend, as Korean is a member country of IEAGHG. As well as showcasing Korean R&D, KCRC brought international updates in with plenary speakers from USA, Japan, China, and Italy. IEAGHG gave the introductory scene-setting on CCS and climate change from the Paris Agreement looking forwards.
The storage work presented at the conference included much work from the controlled release site EIT (Environmental Impact evaluation Test facility), on geochemical and tracer monitoring techniques for impacts in ground water and soil gas. The amount of work being generated from this site is impressive, reminding me of the ZERT facility in the USA.
The Korean work on CO2 capture includes on solvents for post-combustion capture and on membranes for pre- and post-combustion capture.
The CO2 conversion work covered various techniques of CO2 utlisation and conversion, including a focus on microalgae-based capture and product developments.
The plenary talk by Andrew Hlasko of US DOE on NRG’s Petra Nova project was particularly interesting, as this CCS project commenced full operation last month. It is capturing at the rate of 1.4mt CO2 pa, and sending the CO2 for EOR in West Ranch oil field Texas (in which NRG has a joint venture). This MHI capture plant with KS-1 solvent is scaled-up ten times the previous existing MHI plants around the world. To ensure the storage of CO2 they are using strict MMV protocol at the oil field. Also of relevance to this audience was that the large CO2 regenerator vessel was made in Korea and shipped in one piece to Texas. Petra Nova is the largest coal power station in the USA, at 3800MWe. Benefit was made from the learnings with the pilot CCS project with MHI capture technology at Southern Company’s Plant Barry. The DOE and NRG are proud that the Petra Nova project completed on schedule and within budget. I think this may have been the first conference to hear this much about the Petra Nova CCS project. The press release on becoming operational can be seen at http://investors.nrg.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=121544&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2236424
So all in all, with a wealth of Korean R&D on CCUS, an interesting two days in a rather stormy location on the edge of the Yellow Sea. The presentations will be available at http://www.koreaccs.or.kr/ .
The effectiveness of CCS as a global solution to carbon emission abatement will depend on widespread deployment in both established industrialised and developing economies. One of the key stages for any country is the identification of a national CO2 storage resource. To help understand the challenges faced by different countries that have either conducted, or are planning such a resource assessment, a survey was commissioned by the UK and Korean governments. The responses to this survey have generated a useful foundation that can aid governments and other organisations who are less advanced in planning CO2 storage assessments. IEAGHG has now produced a guide based on the survey’s findings. It is designed to help government bodies and policy makers with limited CCS experience to identify and select information on assessment methodologies. The guide provides information on where to find the material required to undertake initial national scale storage assessments. The guidance also includes definitions of technical terminology, proposed steps to establishing a national storage assessment and recent up to date case studies from a variety of countries focussing on Africa and Asia. A variety of methods for capacity estimation have been used and this guide provides explanations of where to find these studies and sources of information including websites, papers and organisations. Most companies and organisations engaged in CCS development have stated their ambition to share knowledge and experience; and they actively collaborate at an international level to aid future projects. This guide provides a link with current expertise in CO2 storage to help facilitate new CCS projects especially in developing countries.
It should be stressed that many detailed storage assessments have been conducted and published in the past decade. A wide variety of techniques and technologies have been used to complete them given the varying nature of each country and individual sites. Although a standardised method has yet to be established, this guide aims to provide links to the most developed methodologies providing a direction on the most suitable approach to adopt.
At the conclusion of this guide there is a nine point summary of the key stages that are recommended for the establishment of a national CO2 storage assessment.
Review of CO2 storage in basalts – new technical review from IEAGHG on the potential of using basalts and other magnesium rich rocks to store CO2.
Conventional CO2 storage relies on injection into a reservoir in sedimentary rock which has an impermeable caprock. It is also possible to trap CO2 in igneous rock formations with high magnesium, iron and calcium contents. Minerals with these metal cations react with CO2 especially if water is present. New carbonate minerals then form permanently locking the CO2 in the subsurface. Because this process is relatively rapid potential leakage is minimised.
Basalts are volcanic in origin and consequently they form rocks with a fine grained mineral matrix when they solidify often with vesicles that can form layers with high porosity and permeability. CO2 injected into these layers is then trapped by carbonation reactions. Two high profile sites, CarbFix in Iceland and the Wallula project in Washington State have both injected and monitored CO2 storage in basalts since 2012. Evidence from both sites shows that injected CO2 reacts relatively rapidly to form carbonate minerals. One potential limitation of this form of carbon sequestration is the large quantity of water required. Further tests are required to demonstrate the process at larger scale.
Some other igneous rocks with high magnesium (>12% by weight) contents are also known to react with atmospheric CO2. Naturally occurring carbonate minerals can be observed where these ultramafic rocks outcrop, for example in Oman. Such rock formations are comparatively rare compared to basalts and do not form layers with permeable zones which limits their carbon sequestration potential. However, ultramafic rocks are mined where they contain valuable metals particularly platinum and chromium. After extraction the crushed rock tailings are dumped in large quantities. One of the largest producers of platinum from ultramafic rocks is South Africa, a country which has evaluated the potential of using mine tailings for CO2 sequestration.
Further details about CO2 storage in basalts, and the potential that ultramafic rocks could offer, are explain in this latest technical review from IEAGHG.
CO2 storage has now been tested at a number of demonstration sites around the world, including some depleted oil and gas reservoirs. The use of depleted reservoirs can offer some advantages because the geological characteristics that are pertinent to CO2 storage, such as the distribution of porosity and permeability, have been pre-determined. Although depleted hydrocarbon fields can show strong evidence of fluid retention, there are risks associated with existing wellbores and the possibility of caprock deterioration.
In 2016 IEAGHG published a study reviewing key factors that influence CO2 storage in depleted oil and gas fields based on four detailed examples. Comparisons were made between storage operations in depleted fields (with or without enhanced hydrocarbon recovery) and storage in saline aquifers with the approaches required in modelling, monitoring, reporting, economics, and operational strategies. Four main case studies were chosen; The Goldeneye (UK North Sea), Cranfield (Texas, USA), SACROC (Texas, USA) and Otway (Australia).
- The use of depleted reservoirs for CO2 storage can offer advantages because the geological characteristics that are important to CO2 storage have been pre-determined.
- There is strong evidence for secure containment if a rigorous risk assessment and characterisation has been conducted.
- Evidence from these case studies has shown that CO2 storage does not have a detrimental impact on adjacent oil and gas fields.
- AZMI (Above Zone Monitoring Interval i.e. a formation above the reservoir and caprock) pressure monitoring has proved to be an effective tool for tracking CO2 in heterogeneous and complex reservoirs (e.g. Cranfield). AZMI is an active area of research and development.
- Monitoring approaches should take into consideration the background geochemical reactions in aquifers that might be prone to ingress from brine or CO2 above a storage reservoir. Simplistic approaches may not be effective and could lead to flawed inferences without an adequate understanding of natural variation in groundwater geochemistry.
- Risks associated with increasing pressure are predominantly and most commonly mitigated by keeping pressures below pre-production levels.
- Case study evidence suggests oil and CO2 miscibility might improve storage estimates by up to 3% whereas residual gas and CO2 miscibility could reduce capacity by up to 6%.
- At Goldeneye proprietary CO2-resistant cements could be utilised if they can be shown as superior to ‘normal’ Portland cement but have not yet been thoroughly tested in terms of their compatibility.
- An in depth understanding of potential risks is essential to allow for balanced cost-benefit modifications and improved costs analysis.
I like to watch the weather in a morning on BBC news to start the day. These days we regularly get images of the flow of the jet stream and I have been amazed by how much it varies, wobbling around the upper region of the globe. This morning we were told that the jet stream was bringing high winds to the UK and planes coming from the USA will be swept over the Atlantic with its force. Sounds like going the other way might take you a lot longer !!!
Then as I read the newspaper the wobble in the jet stream i understand is due to the Arctic ice melting. The melting ice, which is caused by global warming, exposes dark ocean beneath, which absorbs more sunlight than ice and warms further. This feedback loop is apparently why the Arctic is heating up much faster than the rest of the planet. As a result the temperature difference between the Arctic and lower latitudes is narrowing. This is the crucial bit as it is this temperature gradient between them that drives the jet stream wind. So the good old jet stream forms a boundary between the cold north and the warmer south, and the lower temperature difference means the winds are now weaker (although not today!!). This means the jet stream meanders more, with big loops bringing warm air to the frozen north and cold air into warmer southern climes. Another consequence of the weaker jet stream is that is can get stuck over regions for days and weeks which can bring extreme cold periods to our shores.
Who says global warming isn’t happening !!!
Andy Boston from the Energy Research Partnership in the UK has written a great article that presses on an issue that has concerned me for some time, the use of the levelised costs of electricity (LCOE) to compare low carbon technologies. In his article “the levelised cost of fruit” see http://erpuk.org/levelised-cost-fruit/ he dismisses the use of LCOE and declares it dead as a comparator.
He argues that we need to start talking about the total system cost and the value of technologies in reducing that cost relative to a default option such as building CCGTs to meet demand. This he believes is the way forward and I totally agree with him.