The Grand Challenge of Carbon Capture and Sequestration
- George J. Koperna Jr. (Advanced Resources International) | Neeraj Gupta (Battelle Institute) | Michael Godec (Advanced Resources International) | Owain Tucker (Shell) | David Riestenberg (Advanced Resources International) | Lydia Cumming (Battelle)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 39 - 41
- 2017. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is designed to reduce atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). The CCS process captures carbon dioxide (CO2) generated at large-scale industrial sources (power plants, refineries, gasification facilities, etc.) and transports it to an injection site to be permanently stored in the subsurface. With extensive research linking GHG concentrations in the atmosphere to observed changes in global temperature patterns, CCS technology could play an important role in policy efforts to limit the global average temperature rise.
Even with the wealth of experience already in place within the oil and gas industry, the obstacles to advancing CCS to the forefront of GHG mitigation technologies remain significant. Large-scale CO2 injection projects remain primarily in the realm of commercial CO2-EOR (enhanced oil recovery) projects. The key challenges to enabling CCS include cost-effective capture and transport of industrial CO2, clear access to pore space for CO2 storage in geologic formations, proven methodologies for demonstrating storage integrity, and dissemination of best practices. SPE members can play a significant role in addressing these challenges.
Cost-Effective Capture of Power Sector and Industrial CO2
A major technical challenge facing capture at electric generating facilities is that the CO2 concentration in large-volume flue streams is quite low. Current removal technologies include techniques that apply amines, chilled ammonia, membranes, and ionic liquids to strip the CO2 from the flue stream. However, these technologies were developed to handle smaller-scale operations and higher-CO2-purity streams. When applied to large electric generating plants, process efficiency is reduced, and the energy penalty associated with the capture process drives up costs, increasing the levelized cost of electricity by 50% or more, depending on local factors. Also, to accommodate the substantial volumes of the CO2 and flue gas at full-scale industrial sources, the removal technologies require significant scale up and footprint for deployment.
While early movers are developing large-scale capture demonstrations such as SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Project, Southern Company’s Kemper Energy Facility (Fig. 1), and NRG’s Petro Nova Facility, we are still very early on the “learning curve.” Support for more development of next-generation capture technologies and large demonstrations is required to push us down the cost curve. This involves reducing the cost of materials and construction, parasitic costs related to energy for operations, compression, and operation and maintenance costs.
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