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The EERC investigates technical challenges associated with transport and geologic storage of variable quantities of CO2.

The EERC, in partnership with the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas (IEAGHG) R&D Programme based in the United Kingdom and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is working to identify the technical challenges associated with pipeline transport and geologic storage of variable quantities of CO2.

This is one of several recent projects that the EERC has been awarded by IEAGHG, strengthening an already-key partnership. Project Manager Melanie Jensen and her team proposed the project to identify the extent of technical challenges posed by CO2 capture from emission sources that do not produce a consistent quantity of CO2 over time.

"CO2 is produced in large quantities during electricity generation and industrial processes, and over time, there can be a substantial variation of the CO2 generation rate," said Jensen, an EERC Research Manager. "For example, the generation of CO2 from electric power plants fluctuates with power demand, which varies minute by minute and on a seasonal basis."

Therefore, Jensen adds, the design and operation of the entire CO2 capture, compression, transport, and storage system will need to accommodate this type of variation. "We want to understand the magnitude of these variations so that solutions can be developed to minimize any potential harmful operational effects on all parts of an integrated system, especially the transport and storage components," Jensen said.

The project is concentrating on the effects of variable CO2 flow rate during the pipeline transport of CO2 in vapor and supercritical phases as well as its storage in deep saline formations, in depleted oil and gas reservoirs, and during enhanced oil recovery activities. Not only will the cost implications of these challenges be investigated, but a number of possible solutions will be proposed.
Jensen, knowledgeable in the area of capture-compression-pipeline transport infrastructure, says this is an important issue for the industry, as it will pave the way for future solutions in transporting CO2 across the country, as well as in long-term storage of CO2.

The EERC has gained critical knowledge in the area of pipeline transport of CO2, as well as in the equipment used to dehydrate and compress the CO2 stream prior to transport; regulation of CO2 emission transport and storage; and public outreach related to all aspects of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).

The EERC leads the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, one of seven regional partnerships under the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program.

"As part of our membership, the PCOR Partnership includes pipeline companies, oil companies, oilfield operators, engineering companies, CO2 transport experts, advanced CO2 compressor developers, and regulatory agencies, all of which are invaluable and provide a unique perspective in this study," said John Harju, Associate Director for Research.

The EERC is also the lead organization for the Partnership for CO2 Capture, a multimember organization funded by DOE and over 20 energy, utility, and CO2 capture developers to assist in accelerating the development of promising CO2 capture technologies that are "near commercial" for utility applications.

The EERC has completed several other projects in the past for IEAGHG. Past projects included issues surrounding the extraction of formation water from CO2 storage as well as two separate projects focused on CO2 storage in deep saline formations. All of these projects fall directly in line with the overall goals of IEAGHG, a nonprofit organization which funds research for CCUS, focusing on technologies that can reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. The role of the IEAGHG program is to evaluate technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions derived from the use of fossil fuels.

"This project is an example of one of the EERC's strategic niche markets that has a far-reaching impact," added Harju. "The EERC continues to leverage and enhance preexisting expertise for the benefit of our industry clients," said Harju. The project should be completed by the end of summer 2014.