Carbon dioxide is a combustion by-product of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal) that are used for electricity production, transportation, heating and industrial applications. It is also released when solid waste, wood, and wood particles or products are burned, and is widely considered an important ‘anthropogenic’ (i.e. man-made) greenhouse gas. CCS is a process for reducing such greenhouse-gas emissions by extracting CO2 from effluent flue stacks, and transporting it for storage purposes and sequestration. Pipelines are the safest and the most efficient means of transporting such an anthropogenic gas; as well as sequestration, the gas can be used under certain circumstances for injection and enhanced oil recovery, or for natural gas storage cushioning.
In the past four decades, CO2 transportation has been focused on gathering, processing, pipeline transportation and the injection of relatively pure CO2 (from naturally occurring sources) into depleted gas and oil storage and fields. CO2 from such sources generally does not contain impurities that are incompatible with the reservoir conditions. However, the CO2 streams that are generally available from flue stacks are contaminated by other effluent gases such as hydrogen sulphide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), oxygen (O2), and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur that can be described as NOx and SOx. Gathering from industrial processes and locations, and transportation by pipeline for subsequent use or sequestration, will require different treatment of the CO2 than for CO2 obtained from naturally occurring sources.
The wide-ranging content of the course was based on the recent book on the subject which the two presenters have co-authored with Dr Patricia Seevam, Kamal Botros, and Claire Ennis, and reviews the entire spectrum of design and operating requirements for pipelines and network facilities that would be needed to transport carbon dioxide containing impurities safely, and without adverse impact on people and the environment.
The Forum kicked off on Wednesday morning with an introduction from Dr Julia Race of Newcastle University. In her address to the 100-strong audience of pipeline engineers, designers, regulators, health and safety inspectors, and environmental specialists, Dr Race welcomed everyone on behalf of the University, and set the scene for the event by pointing out that in the UK there is already significant activity in CCS. There are both planned and pilot plants under way, and it is hoped that by at least 2016 there will be an operational CCS unit.
To this end, Dr Race said that the UK Government has recently announced its intent to invest £1 billion ($US1.5 billion) of capital funding and additional support in a competition for a project that will demonstrate the full CCS chain with the capture facility in the UK and storage offshore. In addition, the UK government has also announced £125 million ($US195 million) funding for research and development (R&D) in CCS, including a new £13 million ($US 20.3 million) UK CCS Research Centre, through the Research Councils. Later in the Forum, Professor Jon Gibbins, the principal investigator for this new Centre, outlined the role of the Centre in CCS and transportation research in the UK.