After a very good lunch with lots of interesting chat, which is common to a UKCCSRC biannual meeting, the scene was set for the third Transport & Storage outbreak session. A diverse group of expert speakers were invited to give updates in specific R&D areas ranging from fundamental research about the properties of impure CO2, over CO2 capture at ships, over the potential induced seismicity from injecting CO2, to the tracking of CO2 in geological stores.
It was Richard Graham who started off to give a fascinating overview of the key ways to determine the thermophysical properities of impure CO2. Generally, they can be classified into three areas. While these properties are often calculated by researchers and practicioners with equation of states (1), that are limited to the accuracy and availability of the underlying empirical data that they have been derived from, they can be equally derived from molecular simulation (2) or first principle calculations (3). All of these methods have their advantages and disadvantages that Richard was able to outline in a deeply insighful but very comprehensible way, even to the wide audience. The take-home message that Richard focused on, was that when choosing to derive property data from first principles, one is able to get very good predictions, even without any prior knowledge of the property data.
As the next speaker Kumar Patchigolla outlined and spread the word of his new and highly interesting research project about CO2 shipping-compression, liquefation and dehydration (CO2 LIQUID). He spoke about the advantages of CO2 transportation via ship, notably that other industries at spread out locations can join in to link into the CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure without building an expensive upfront pipeline network. Further, CO2 transportation via ship allows to overcome greater distances in a more cost-effective manner, and would be suitable for countries that struggle to provide other pipeline infrastructre. The project that focuses on improving the energy efficiency of CO2 shipping, Kumar explained, has a funding volume of £101,000 and will run for 2 years. Project partners are BOC, FLIR, EPSRC and PSE.
James Verdon from the University of Bristol followed on to speak about the seismicity that is induced by CO2 injection and storage. He started off to give a overview of the history of seismicity that has been recorded and associated with CO2 injection. It turns out that due to the very favourable conditions at the world leading CO2 injection Sleipner project in Norway, where no seismicity had been detected, it took a while for the issue to arise. It was only when a leading geological researcher in the US published a paper highlighting this concern, that the topic become of interest to the larger researcher and practinioner community. Nowadays, CO2 injection projects are closely monitored in order for the induced seismicity to be better analysed and understood. Only the detailed understanding of the induced seismicity can give confidence to the public that CCS is a sound and logical way to move forward in the fight against climate change.
As the last speaker in the session Stewart Gilfillan spoke about using inherent isotope fingerpints to monitor CO2 in geological storage sites. After outlining the general concept of isotopes and why they can be used as trackers and markers in captured, transported and stored CO2, Stewart went on to outline the test facility they used for answering their core research questions which were (1) what are the inherent fingerprints of captured CO2 and what controls them?; (2) Will they be retained during transport?; and (3) will it be a usefule subsurface tracer? Whilst the answer to the first question is somewhat case dependent, the answer to the second question is to the delight of the research team and community an unambigous ‘yes’. The answer the to the third question is a ‘yes’ too, however, with caveats: Whilst the stable isotopes can fractionate and be overprinted by natural CO2, the radiogenic noble gas fingerprint from the reservoir will be inherited by the injected CO2 and serve as a distinctive trancer for CO2 migration, Stuart explained.
After a short but engaging question & answer session the 3rd transport and storage outbreak session of the UKCCSRC biannual finished on time, due to the good timekeeping skills of Professor Stuart Haszeldine form University of Edinburgh.