Research on geological storage of CO2 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

2013-08-09 10:35 by Anja Reitz

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology which could help the UK government meet stringent reductions in CO2 emissions by 2050.1 This EPSRC funding for CCS research - £37 million, is part of Government’s  £125 million Research and Development programme into Carbon Capture and Storage.
Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said: “Finding ways to reduce our CO2 emissions requires the latest research, especially around new technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage. The UK’s world-class scientists are extremely well-placed to tackle this challenge thanks to continued investment in skills, knowledge and cutting edge projects like these.”
CCS captures CO2 emissions from power stations and heavy industry instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. The CO2 is transported via pipelines then injected into porous rocks (reservoirs), from which oil or gas has previously been extracted, or in saline aquifers, and stored at depth. The CO2 is kept isolated from the rocks above by caprocks, which are less porous and, with their very low permeability, provide a ‘seal’.  In the UK, storage sites are likely to be sited deep under the North Sea.  
All the projects will come under the umbrella of the UK CCS Research Centre, established in April 2012, to improve coordination and visibility of approximately 150 UK academics working on CCS.
Dave Delpy, CEO of EPSRC said:  “These projects will help accelerate the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage, enabling the UK to maintain its world leading role in this vital low carbon technology.”
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) awarded funding to the following projects: 
1.  CO2 Injection and storage: short and long-term behaviour at different spatial scales -   £1.2 million awarded to Imperial College London in collaboration with
Heriot-Watt University, Cardiff University, the University of Leeds and NERC British Geological Survey. Partner organisations: Progressive Energy Limited and the Energy Technologies Institute.
Drawing upon their experience in CO2 storage performance assessment research at industrial field pilots such as In Salah, Snøhvit and Sleipner, the research team, led by Professor Sevket Durucan and Dr Anna Korre from Imperial College London, aim to address some of the current knowledge gaps in this technology.
The project will develop optimisation tools for CO2 injection well placement and control strategies for plume behaviour. The research outcomes will support the design of industrial scale storage operations and maximise storage capacity utilisation, while accounting for uncertainties at licence and basin scales.
Through laboratory experimental and numerical modelling work, the project will investigate the effects of temperature and pressure on fracture and fault behaviour within the storage reservoir and the caprock seal. Research will improve the understanding of the effects of reservoir processes on structural integrity and containment of the stored CO2.
Further experimental and numerical simulation work in the project will study in situ wellbore cement/rock and cement caprock behaviour and develop novel wellbore and caprock leakage mitigation and remediation technologies utilising sealants and induced mineral precipitation processes.
2. Fingerprinting captured CO2 and proving ownership. £236,178 awarded to the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with the Scottish Universities Environment Research Centre (SUERC).
This study, led by Dr Stuart Gilfillan from the University of Edinburgh, aims to determine if the natural tracer (noble gases and carbon and oxygen Isotopes) fingerprint inherent in captured CO2 is sufficient to track its fate in the subsurface, distinguish ownership and to provide an early warning of unplanned migration out of the storage formation.
To do this the researchers will determine the fingerprint of CO2 captured from several of the UK capture demonstration projects, and at the Boundary Dam Power Plant prior to its injection into the Aquistore saline aquifer storage site in Saskatechwan, Canada. By comparing this to the fingerprint of the CO2 produced from the Aquistore monitoring well, some 100m from the injection well, they will be able to see if the fingerprint is retained after the CO2 has moved through the saline aquifer.
Source: Energy and Physical Sciences Research Council, Press release

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