Archive for February, 2011

Production of Methanol from CO2

Posted by on Monday, 28 February, 2011

US department of energy (DOE) has got a patent to produce methanol from carbon dioxide. The process developed by DOE is for the production of methanol from natural gas containing methane.

The inventors [patents] are Meyer Steinberg, USDOE scientist at the Brookhaven, NY, National Laboratory and Yuanji Dong, EPA scientist at National Risk Management and Environmental Protection Research Laboratory in North Carolina.

The objective of this project is to provide an efficient method for the production of methanol from natural and carbon dioxide.

Process involved

A process for the production of methanol from natural gas containing methane comprising the thermal decomposition of methane and the subsequent reaction of the resulting hydrogen gas with carbon dioxide in a catalyst containing methanol synthesis reactor to produce methanol

Alternative methods include the gasification with carbon dioxide of at least a portion of the carbon produced by the decomposing step, to produce carbon monoxide, which is then reacted with hydrogen gas to produce methanol; or the reforming of a portion of the natural gas feedstock used in the decomposing step with carbon dioxide to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas, which carbon monoxide and hydrogen are then combined with additional hydrogen from the natural gas decomposing step in a methanol synthesis reactor to produce methanol. The methods taught reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide resulting from the methanol production process.

What is claimed?

A. Process for the production of methanol from methane containing natural gas comprised of:

a. Thermally decomposing said methane to produce hydrogen gas and elemental carbon; wherein this decomposing step is comprised of:

i. Bubbling the methane through a bath comprised of a molten material operating at a temperature of at least 800° C. and a pressure of 1 to 10 atm.;

ii. Cracking said methane through the use of said molten material such that elemental carbon and hydrogen gas are formed;

iii. Removing the hydrogen gas from the top of the bath; and

iv. Collecting the elemental carbon off the top of the liquid surface of the bath; and

B. Reacting said hydrogen gas with carbon dioxide in a methanol synthesis reactor in the presence of a catalyst to form a product containing methanol.

C. The process of claim A wherein the molten material is selected from the group comprising molten metal tin and molten metal iron.



1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is related to a method for the production of methanol, and more specifically, to a method for production of methanol by conversion of natural gas and carbon dioxide which method has reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Methanol, which was first discovered in the late 1600’s, has found use as a chemical feedstock and as an efficient fuel. Its earliest and largest use to date is as a feedstock in the production of formaldehyde. While in recent years such use has decreased, methanol has found increasing use in the production of such materials as acetic acid and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE–a gasoline additive). In addition, methanol is being used directly (with increasing demand) as a fuel in race cars, in farm equipment and, in some areas, as a general purpose automotive fuel. Methanol is fast becoming an environmentally preferred alternative transportation fuel and can also serve as a clean stationary power plant fuel.

There are several commercially viable methods of producing methanol. These methods include:

1. The steam reforming of natural gas in accordance with the following reaction:

CH4 +H2OCO+3H2

2. The gasification of natural gas with carbon dioxide in accordance with the following reaction:

CO2 +CH4 2CO+2H2

Or a combination of these methods

As is clear to those skilled in the art the goal of each of these conventional methods is to produce or otherwise provide carbon monoxide and hydrogen in a molar ratio of 1 mole of CO to 2 moles of H2 .These reactants are then reacted in methanol synthesis reactor in the presence of a catalyst to produce methanol in accordance with the following exothermic reaction:


The processes known in the art often produce carbon dioxide which, if fed to the methanol synthesis reactor, results in a lower methanol yielding reaction which competes with the above reaction for the valuable hydrogen as follows:


Therefore, carbon dioxide must be removed prior to entry into the methanol synthesis reactor. This obviously adds additional complexity, and, therefore expense to the process. In addition, the creation and/or emission of carbon dioxide by the methanol forming process creates other problems since carbon dioxide is a green house gas, the negative effects of which are only beginning to be understood. What is well understood, however, is the desire to reduce or eliminate carbon dioxide production and processes which reduce such emissions or in fact consume carbon dioxide as part of the process are desirable.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an efficient method for the production of methanol from natural gas and carbon dioxide.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a method which produces a high yield of methanol per unit feedstock.

It is yet another object to the present invention to provide a method for the production of methanol having reduced carbon dioxide emissions. It is another object of the present invention to utilize waste CO2 from coal burning power plants and other sources to produce methanol to reduce overall net CO2 emissions.

It is another object of the present invention to produce carbon as a co-product to the production of methanol.


This invention relates to the production of methanol by conversion of natural gas (which is comprised mainly of methane) and carbon dioxide. The process of the present invention is comprised of two (2) basic steps, the thermal decomposition of methane (natural gas) to produce elemental carbon and hydrogen gas followed by the catalyzed reaction of the hydrogen gas produced in step one of the process with carbon dioxide in a methanol synthesis reactor to produce a gas stream containing methanol. The methanol may then be separated from the gas stream by known techniques. The carbon is separated as a co-product of the process.

As discussed above described in more detail below, the process of the  invention consumes a substantial amount of carbon dioxide.

The source of the carbon dioxide used in the present invention may be any sources. However, since as indicated above the net creation and/or emission of carbon dioxide is something to be reduced or avoided, the process of the present invention may be most advantageously operated in conjunction with a carbon dioxide producing process such as a fossil fuel fired energy producing plant (i.e., e.g., a coal fired electrical generation plant or waste incinerators).

As is well known in the art such fossil fuel fired plants produce carbon dioxide as well as other gases which, if they are not otherwise dealt with, are discharged to the air, having many negative impacts on the environment such as global warming. However, such a plant operated in conjunction with the present invention could result in reduced carbon dioxide emissions since a substantial portion of the carbon dioxide generated could be consumed in the process of the present invention.

In addition, as indicated above,  the present invention has the added feature of producing elemental carbon.

The carbon which is removed from the thermal decomposition step may be stored, sold or employed in other processes where elemental carbon is of value such as the production of carbon black.

An alternate embodiment of the present invention involves the additional step of gasification of a portion of the elemental carbon produced in step one with carbon dioxide to produce carbon monoxide and thereafter reacting the hydrogen produced in the natural gas thermal decomposition step with the carbon monoxide in a catalyzed reaction in a methanol synthesis reactor to form methanol.

A third embodiment of the present invention involves the step of reforming a portion of the natural gas feedstock with carbon dioxide to produce carbon monoxide and hydrogen which constituents are then provided to a methanol synthesis reactor along with the hydrogen gas produced in the methane decomposition step, where the carbon monoxide and hydrogen are combined in a catalyzed reaction to produce methanol.

It will be clear to those skilled in the art that the thermal energy necessary to cause the thermal decomposition of the natural gas in step one in the above described process may be provided in any of the known manners, but it is most commonly provided by the combustion of natural gas in accordance with the following reaction:

2CH4 +4O2 CO2+4H2O

As can be seen this reaction produces carbon dioxide. However, since the process of the present invention also consumes carbon dioxide and in fact does so in an amount greater than that produced by the above reaction 5, the use of the present process results in the reduction of carbon dioxide produced by the methanol producing process.

In addition, if hydrogen gas produced by methane decomposition is substituted as the fuel in the process or if an alternative non-fossil fuel method of supplying thermal energy (e.g. solar energy or nuclear energy to the methane decomposition reactor is employed, for the decomposition step, the production of carbon dioxide in the process of the present invention is further reduced.

The carbon produced in the process is either sequestered or used as a materials commodity and is not burned as fuel.
When methanol is used as an alternative transportation fuel in automotive engines or as a clean stationary power plant fuel, the methanol combustion reaction is as follows:

CH3OH+3/2O2 CO2 +2H2O

As indicated, carbon dioxide is produced. However, since carbon dioxide recovered from a fossil fuel burning power plant is used in the synthesis of methanol, the net carbon dioxide produced in the system becomes near zero when methane is used as a fuel to heat the methane decomposition reaction of step one of the process or is zero when hydrogen is used as a fuel.




Fossil Fuels

CCS in South Africa

Posted by on Monday, 28 February, 2011

More than ninety percent of South Africa’s power is generated from coal and other industries resulting in the release of over 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. As a part of South African government’s effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions it has established the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and storage (SACCCS) to investigate the feasibility of CCS in South Africa. SACCCS was established in March 2009 as a division within South African National Energy Research Institute (SANERI) and is governed by a charter that has an initial five year plan.

The strategy of SACCCS is to develop and implement a roadmap for the commercial application of CCS in South Africa. The mission of SACCCS is to be the leading authority for all carbon capture storage related activities in South Africa. Its main objective is to prepare and promote the construction of a safe and reliable carbon capture and demonstration plant in South Africa.

The roadmap consists of five phases:

  • Preliminary Potential Investigation: A preliminary investigation was undertaken by the CSIR for the Department of Minerals and Energy showed theoretically that South Africa had capturable emissions and potential storage sites. Based on this premise, further investigations were initiated.
  • Geological Storage Atlas: A project to derive more authoritative storage information commenced during September, 2008. The Atlas identifies four possible CO2 geological storage basins in South Africa. Two are being explored – onshore areas of the Zululand Basin, with UK support, and the Outeniqua Basin, with European aid support. The Atlas will be taken into the Centre’s programme of work and further developed to locate a storage site suitable for the Test Injection.
  • CO2 Injection Experiment: The ultimate purpose of the Experiment is to show to decision makers that carbon capture and storage can be safely undertaken in South Africa. This experiment will end by 2016.
  • Demonstration Plant: A demonstration plant will test an integrated operating system under local conditions and forms an essential link between feasibility trials and a full scale commercial plant. This phase will demonstrate the capture, transport and safe injection of CO2 into South African geological formations. The magnitude of the demonstration plant is in the order of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
  • Commercial Operation: A full scale commercial plant is envisaged once the result of the demonstration plant turns out to be positive. It is expected that this phase will not be a part of the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage. The magnitude of the commercial scale operation is in the order of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Work plan of SACCCS:

The current focus areas of carbon capture and storage work in South Africa are therefore storage and regulation. After the publication of the Atlas the next logical step is the undertaking of the test injection experiment. The purpose of the test injection is a “proof of concept” to demonstrate that carbon storage can be undertaken in South Africa. The process of bringing South Africa to the test injection will also enable ancillary outputs that will be necessary for a carbon capture and storage industry in South Africa. The test injection phase will involve injecting some tens of thousands of tonnes of CO2 to measure the effect of injection of CO2. The results will determine the future of CCS in South Africa.

To read more:


Carbon Capture and Storage, Geological Sequestration

European carbon capture storage a speech by Charles Hendry

Posted by on Wednesday, 23 February, 2011


It’s an honour to be asked here today, and speak to you on how I see CCS moving forward. A subject very close to my heart, because its potential never ceases to amaze.

I think the advantages are clear. Fossil-fired electricity has a hatrick of ‘pros’. Reliability, availability and affordability!  It’s why fossil fuels will remain an important part in our future energy mix.

It’s not about low carbon versus affordability versus energy security. These must all work together.

This security is a major component to the economic regeneration that we are committed to starting.

Where CCS comes in

By 2020 well over half of the UK’s electricity generation will still be fuelled by coal and gas.

Look at the last few winters we’ve had? Look at how exceptionally cold and enduring they were.

We need to meet the challenge of de-carbonising the next generation of our fossil fuel-fired power stations.

That is why CCS is such a crucial element of this Government’s energy and climate change agenda. It is the only technology that can significantly reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power stations – by as much as 90 per cent.

And it will play an important role in balancing the electricity system. Without CCS, halving emissions by 2050 will be 70 per cent more expensive.

CCS and green growth

We have already put in place one of the most comprehensive policy and regulatory frameworks in the world to encourage investment in CCS….

Europe also has a natural advantage in the form of the storage capacity available under the North Sea. The potential is enormous.

The estimated CO₂ storage capacity of the UK and its continental shelf alone is 22 GTonnes. That’s roughly 100 years of capacity for emissions from the power sector.

Demonstration of CCS

In the UK we have amongst the most advanced plans for a fossil fuelled power station with CCS anywhere in the world. We know better than anyone how difficult demonstration of CCS will be.

The market conditions are not adequate to fund the development and deployment of CCS at the pace we need.

That is why, as part of the Spending Review last October; we announced that up to a billion pounds will be invested in one of the world’s first commercial-scale CCS demonstrations on coal-fired electricity generating plant.

Projects 2-4

We know that 1 demonstration project is not sufficient in moving CCS to being a technically and commercially viable technology within the time frames required to meet our carbon reduction targets. That is why we have a commitment to continue public sector investment in a further 3 demonstration projects.

International policy

The work we do in delivering our first demonstration plants will provide large-scale exemplars. I want to see the experience and knowledge from these projects shared widely. We must learn from each other and share that knowledge with the rest of the world.

And we are supporting CCS capacity building in developing countries through the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Fund.

Domestic policy

This Government has, and will, put in place policies and regulatory frameworks to facilitate CCS but we must work with industry to address the delivery issues – the technical, financial and commercial challenges – if demonstration projects are to be built on time and CCS is to become commercially viable. That is why we set up the UK’s CCS Development Forum – to bring together leaders from industry, NGOs and the public sector to hold the Government to account on its CCS commitments.

We are also developing a CCS Roadmap to 2050 which will articulate our proposed timescales and set out the key technical, policy and commercial issues which need to be addressed, by when, and by whom, if CCS is to be commercially deployed from the 2020s and contribute to achievement of our 2050 target.


More than £110 billion of investment is needed in the UK in new power stations and grid upgrades over the next decade.

The hardest and most important challenge for the Department is on electricity market reform (EMR).

We want to drive investment in the UK and ensure this doesn’t go overseas, so we will ensure that the right level of an EPS is set and this is seen as a beacon of our long term investment framework


In short we need more energy but fewer emissions. And so to end where I began: the challenge is vast, the prospects daunting but it’s all within our reach. The glass is most definitely half full.

Much of the investment will have to be significantly bigger than in the past. And we need to take the public with us. Safety is a priority, but we also need to ensure we are explaining the benefits of CCS.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all, and I look forward to hearing yours.

You can read the full speech here:

Fossil Fuels

Global CCS Institute approved Carbon Capture and Storage Blueprint

Posted by on Thursday, 17 February, 2011

A Scottish designed blueprint to help governments implement carbon capture and storage (CCS) project applications smoothly has been launched.

A new ‘Are You Ready’ toolkit has been designed to make it easy for nations and regions to test their legislation, regulatory and public engagement systems in advance of receiving applications for CCS projects.

The test toolkit, produced by the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) Centre on behalf of the Scottish Government, provides a low-cost, low-risk approach to a regulatory test exercise. This toolkit was researched and written by Benjamin Evar and Hannah Chalmers from the University of Edinburgh’s SCCS research group, and Richard Bellingham from the University of Strathclyde.

SCCS is the largest carbon storage grouping in the UK which comprise in excess of 65 researchers and are unique in connected strength across the full CCS chain, as well as in biochar capability.

SCCS builds on and extends the established world-class expertise in CO2 storage evaluation and injection, using petroleum and hydrocarbon geosciences (based on geology, geophysics, geo-engineering and subsurface fluid flow). This is augmented by industrial scale chemical engineering, next-generation carbon capture and innovative CO2 use, combined with rare expertise in power plant design and operation.

The Centre comprises experimental and analytical facilities; expertise in field studies and modelling; key academic and research personnel, to stimulate the development of innovative solutions to carbon capture and subsurface storage.

The toolkit was commissioned and sponsored by the Global CCS Institute which works with projects and governments on sharing knowledge to help accelerate the commercial deployment of CCS. Announced by the Australian Government in September 2008, the Global CCS Institute was formally launched in April 2009. It became a legal entity in June 2009 when it was incorporated under the Australian Corporations Act 2001 as a public company and began operating independently as of July 2009. The Institute is a not-for-profit entity, limited by guarantee, and owned by its Members, with the Australian Government initially committing AU$100 million annual funding to the organisation for a four year period.

Energy Minister Jim Mather said: “Scotland is leading global efforts to develop CCS, with the largest offshore storage capacity in Europe in the North Sea and the UK’s leading candidate for a CCS demonstration project. The Scottish Government used a mock CCS project to test our own regulations and identify any streamlining opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. It is therefore appropriate that we have taken the lead in sharing this experience with other nations and regions. This blueprint will now be rolled out across the globe to equip governments, regulators and developers with the knowledge they need to be confident that CCS applications are processed efficiently and in accordance with the relevant planning and environmental obligations”.

Bob Pegler said: “This marks a significant step in our efforts to share knowledge and best practice globally, so that we can help accelerate CCS demonstration. Regulation is one area where Scotland is very advanced and from which many other regions could learn. We believe the toolkit will be extremely useful to European member states in finalizing their work in the transposition of the EU’s CCS Directive. It can also be used by any world region that is looking for best practice regulatory models.” Bob Pegler is the General Manager, Europe of the Global CCS Institute, based in Paris. Bob has served in the Australian Public Service for more than 30 years in the fields of resources, energy, industry, finance and environment. Bob joined the Global CCS Institute in 2009. He has been instrumental in shaping its initial work program, including a comprehensive analysis of the global status of CCS and how impediments are influencing project decisions.

The Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage Centre, working with the Scottish European Green Energy Centre,  has produced the toolkit. The Scottish European Green Energy Centre provides a focal point for European organisations engaging in low carbon energy projects and activities. SEGEC facilitates partnerships, collaborative projects and funding packages designed to accelerate the development and deployment of low carbon energy technologies, and disseminates the results.

The toolkit is designed to support regional and national governments seeking to establish whether their

regulatory framework and systems are fit for purpose. It provides a guide to testing regulatory systems

by taking a CCS project application through every stage of the approval process in a regulatory test exercise.

Toolkit structure:

The toolkit explains the key activities needed to complete a successful test.

·         Careful planning and preparation

·         Developing key tools to support planning and running the event

·         Running a CCS test workshop and in particular gathering the views of delegates

·         Ensuring effective follow-up to gain maximum benefit from the event

Planning and preparation: This section explains the planning and preparation for the CCS test exercise.

The main activities are divided in to four strands:

·         Resources and governance

·         Stakeholder engagement

·         Regulatory analysis

·         Preparation for the event

Resources and governance: The CCS regulatory test exercise will require an organisation to lead the exercise. The lead organisation should be a government department or regulatory agency. This body will have a significant stake in the successful completion of the exercise; be perceived as neutral by different commercial players; and will offer knowledge of existing structures in the electricity sector, oil and gas extraction, and environmental regulation.

Stakeholder engagement: A wide range of organisations have legitimate interests in CCS and the regulatory processes that will approve and control future projects.

These include:

·         Government departments, planners and regulatory agencies;

·         Several industrial sectors, for example electricity generation, oil and gas etc;

·         NGOs involved with good governance and the environment;

·         Technical advisors and consultants; and

·         Academics within the CCS and governance fields.

Regulatory analysis:

Data collection: Collection of data should start at the earliest point possible. Information will need to be collected from government departments and agencies, as well as the regulators, so that the full set of permit applications to be submitted for a CCS project can be identified and detailed. Early data collection and contacts with the wider CCS community will form the basis for the creation of a comprehensive list of relevant CCS regulations and permits as well as a CCS project application. These two tools will be useful in identifying relevant presentation material for the workshop as well as structuring the discussion around key issues.

Preparation for the workshop: The workshop event chairperson and facilitators should be identified as early as possible in the planning and preparation process. This allows them to be fully involved in planning the workshop event.

Key tools: This section details the creation of the regulatory table and the CCS project application, and their role in facilitating learning and discussion before, during and after the workshop event. The regulatory table should be organised according to permit planning stage and may include the following information:

  • Type of permit – environmental, health and safety etc;
  • Place in the CCS chain/project lifecycle – capture, transport, storage, decommissioning;
  • Permit title;
  • Area covered by the permit;
  • Granting authority;
  • Timing from application to permit;
  • Details on submission requirements; and
  • Comments on emerging legislation.

Running the workshop: The agenda should allow participants adequate time and space for informal networking. This will assist with the development of a community of interest, through a cross fertilisation of ideas and a broader analysis of different points of view.

Following up: gaining the benefits: Following up on lessons learned after the workshop is vital if the test exercise is to deliver its intended objectives and benefits.

Key actions are likely to be arranged in two groups:

  • Disseminating the results of the exercise to a wider stakeholder audience; and
  • Planning and engaging to deliver the agreed actions.

The Global CCS Institute has supported the toolkit with £50,000 funding.

The Institute will promote the toolkit around the world and it is already attracting interest from Canada, Australia and several EU nations. The move is a vote of confidence in Scotland’s forward thinking approach in preparing for carbon capture and storage projects, which is recognised as a key technology in cutting emissions from fossil fuel power stations.

Amine based carbon dioxide capture using artificial intelligence

Posted by on Thursday, 17 February, 2011

An enhanced understanding of the intricate relationships among the process parameters in carbon dioxide capture enables prediction and optimization, thereby improving the efficiency of the CO2 capture process.

The technology of amine-based carbon dioxide (CO2) capture has been widely adopted for reducing CO2 emissions and mitigating global warming. The operation of an amine-based CO2 capture system is complicated and involves monitoring over one hundred process parameters and careful manipulation of numerous valves and pumps. The monitoring and control of critical parameters of the process is an important task because it directly impacts plant performance and capture efficiency of CO2. In this study, artificial intelligence techniques were applied to develop a knowledge-based expert system that aims to effectively monitor and control the CO2 capture process, and thereby enhance CO2 capture efficiency.

The Knowledge-Based System for Carbon Dioxide Capture (KBSCDC) was implemented with DeltaV Simulate (trademark of Emerson Corp., USA). DeltaV Simulate provides control utilities and algorithms which support the configuration of control strategies in modular components.

The KBSCDC can conduct real-time monitoring and diagnosis, as well as suggest remedies for any abnormality detected. The expert system enhances performance and efficiency of the CO2 capture system because it supports automated diagnosis of the system should any abnormal conditions occur. The knowledge base of KBSCDC can be shared and reused, and can contribute to future study of the CO2 capture process.

The idea of using artificial intelligence for carbon dioxide capture was attempted by the scientists at the University of Regina as they published a paper on “An application of neuro-fuzzy technology for analysis of the CO2 capture process”.

The researchers primarily focused in the following two areas:

(1) Study of the behaviour of the conventional amine solvents and development of new or improved solvents with higher CO2 absorption capacities, faster CO2 reaction rates, higher degradation resistance, and lower heat consumption for regeneration.

(2) Selection of appropriate solvents for different applications to reduce the energy penalty. The objective of this study is to develop a knowledge-based expert system for monitoring and control of the CO2 capture process.

The expert system in this study was implemented on DeltaV Simulate (trademark of Emerson Corp., USA). The hierarchy of the DeltaV system includes five levels: plant area (level 1), module (level 2), algorithm (level 3), function block (level 4), and parameter (level 5). The plant areas are logical divisions of the process control system. A plant area consists of modules. Each module is a logic control entity to configure the control strategies. Function block diagrams (FBD) were used to continuously execute control strategies. The basic component of a FBD is a function block, which contains the control algorithm and defines the behaviour of the module. Each function block contains parameters that are the user-defined data utilized for performing its calculations and logic.

To develop the knowledge-based expert system for monitoring and control of the CO2 capture process, the Inferential Modelling Technique (IMT) was applied to analyze the domain knowledge and problem-solving techniques and a knowledge base was established.

The expert system helps to enhance system performance and CO2 capture efficiency by dramatically reducing the time for problem diagnosis and resolution when abnormal operating conditions occur. The expert system can be used as a decision-support tool for inexperienced operators for controlling the plant and can be used for training novice operators.

However, there are two disadvantages in the expert system in its current version. Since there are sixteen components involved in the CO2 capture process, an abnormal condition can be caused by incorrect performance of more than one component or parameter. However, the system in its current version can only deal with abnormal operation of one component at a time. Moreover, the knowledge captured for the diagnosis and system control represents the problem-solving expertise of only one expert operator.

Since the expert system developed is in an infant stage, further research on the same will help in addressing these setbacks.

Natural gas better than coal to cut CO2 emissions?

Posted by on Wednesday, 16 February, 2011

Simon Henry, Chief financial officer at shell, claimed that gas-fired generators would be the cheapest and quickest way of plugging the gap in electricity supply as the UK closes nearly half its current power stations in the next ten to 15 years.

Expanding natural gas at the expense of coal is the fastest and most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions in the power sector over the next decade. Modern gas plants emit between 50 per cent and 70 per cent less CO2 than coal plants.

Undoubtedly, high efficiency natural gas-fired power stations can produce up to 70% lower greenhouse gas emissions than existing brown coal-fired generators, and less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of the coal-fired power stations using latest technology. The CO2 emissions from Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) plants are reduced relative to those produced by burning coal given the same power output because of the higher heat content of natural gas, the lower carbon intensity of gas relative to coal, and the higher overall efficiency of the NGCC plant relative to a coal-fired plant.

Because natural gas has been and still is a relatively cheap fuel, industry and governments have not been overly concerned about energy efficiency. With focus starting to shift and look at emissions, it is starting to be noticed. It still has a long way to go. There is a technology that has been available and used in North America called “Condensing flue gas heat recovery”. This technology is designed to increase the energy efficiency of natural gas and LPG appliances.

McKinsey in a consulting assignment describes gas as a clean, plentiful and relatively cheap form of energy. It challenges the idea that renewable forms of energy should be the primary way to cut emissions.

The supporters of renewable energy also acknowledge the fact that gas fired power plants produce less amount of greenhouse gases compared to coal or oil fired plants. The McKinsey report also talks about Europe’s own largely undeveloped shale gas resources that could meet the continent’s needs for 30 years based on current demand.

It is estimated that integrating carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology with gas fired power plants could cut emissions on gas-fired plants by 90 per cent if deployed, and that it would cost less when compared to the cost involved in installing wind or solar power plants to meet the same targets.

Oxy – fuel technology for zero emission power generation

Posted by on Wednesday, 16 February, 2011

Maersk Oil has acquired licences to Clean Energy System’s Oxy-Fuel technology that allows zero-emission power generation in combination with oil and gas projects.

Maersk Oil is an international oil and gas company with operated production of about 700,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day from fields in the Danish and UK North Sea, offshore Qatar, in Algeria and in Kazakhstan. Maersk Oil exploration activities are ongoing in Denmark, UK, Norway, Angola, Brazil, the US Gulf of Mexico, Greenland and Oman. Maersk Oil and its subsidiary companies are part of the Danish A.P.Moller – Maersk Group. Maersk Oil was established in 1962, when it was awarded a concession for oil and gas exploration and production in Denmark.

Clean Energy Systems, of Rancho Cordova, CA, specialises in the development of zero emissions commercial power plants using an oxy-fuel combustion process. The power plants use oxygen and various fuels to produce power that results in zero atmospheric emissions with carbon dioxide and water as byproducts. The company owns an extensive portfolio of patents and a Bakersfield, CA, power plant, used to further develop the oxy-fuel technology.

The Oxy-Fuel technology uses pure oxygen to combust natural gas or other fuels to produce water, electricity and carbon dioxide (CO2). Water and power can be provided to consumers, while the captured CO2 can be used for Enhanced Oil and Gas Recovery projects, ensuring a zero emission operation.

“The agreement with CES pushes the boundaries of energy technology allowing Maersk Oil to create unique value for potential partners and governments. This follows our long tradition of finding innovative solutions to challenging oil and gas fields. The technology enables power generation free from CO2 emission, while boosting oil and gas extraction in difficult or mature fields.” said Pieter Kapteijn, Director of Technology and Innovation at Maersk Oil.

“We are excited to work with Maersk Oil to deploy the CES technology on a commercial scale in oil and gas projects,” said Keith Pronske, President and CEO of Clean Energy Systems.

What is special about the idea is that most of the necessary systems – a combustor, a turbine, a generator, and a condenser, can be installed in a single plant, which is small enough to fit inside 3 x 40 foot box containers.

The only other piece of plant required is an air separation unit, a much larger piece of plant, which needs to be kept a good distance from the combustor for safety reasons.

This means that the overall capital cost of the system can be much cheaper than the “conventional” concept for carbon capture for gas.

The process can be used on and offshore and is well suited to low quality gas fields containing CO2. The CO2 is separated from condensed steam after combustion – a cost-effective alternative to other carbon capture options – and can then be re-injected into a field to increase the amount of oil or gas recovered.

With the Maersk Oil concept, the gas enters a relatively small plant which can be close to the well (if it is on land) or close to where the gas comes to shore. The outputs from the plant are electricity (which is relatively easy to transport) and carbon dioxide (which can be sent directly back down neighbouring oil or gas well). There might even be a customer for the water (from the reaction of gas with oxygen) if it is in a desert environment.

With only a relatively small plant required on land, it seems likely that there should be less local objections to installing it, compared to (for example) a new gigawatt scale power plant.

Maersk Oil plans to spend 2-3 years further developing the technology and is looking for launch projects.

Combustion technology: The combustor is also much simpler than a conventional gas combustion plant.The combustion is carefully controlled, with oxygen and natural gas or other fuels fed in exactly the right quantities for maximum efficiency. The technology for the combustor was derived from the space rocket industry, where the combustion has to be very carefully controlled to ensure that the rocket combustion products are ejected from the combustor in a stable and safe way. The key is to achieve proper mixing of the O2, fuel and water to ensure that the flame is stable and the temperature controlled.

Clean Energy Systems won a USD $30m grant from the US Department of Energy to further develop the technology and demonstrate its integration with a gas turbine and generator.

Air separation unit: The system also requires an air separation unit to separate air into oxygen and nitrogen by cryogenic cooling. This is a mature commercial process. The air separation unit is much bigger than the other equipment and must be positioned away from the rest of the process for safety reasons.  Maersk is looking at installing the air separation units offshore. “It seems to be feasible without too much development work,” Mr Kapteijn says.

Making it viable: For the system to be feasible, at a minimum you would need a gas well, a customer willing to buy an additional steady supply of electricity at the megawatt scale, and nearby depleted oil or gas wells which could use a steady supply of carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery or enhanced gas recovery. The system could only work if everything could be operated continuously – so there was a continuous supply of gas into the system, electricity was generated continuously, and the carbon dioxide produced would continuously be pumped into a gas or oil field. This means that there would need to be a customer in need of a continuous supply of electricity (“base load”), or the electricity would need to be stored in some way.

Maersk Oil also envisages providing the system in partnerships with national oil companies, whereby it would agree to produce gas fields effectively (using enhanced gas recovery) and provide electricity, without adding a single molecule of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, even if the gas fields themselves are already high in carbon dioxide.

Maersk Oil’s licence of this technology can present solutions to partners and governments, which increasingly support the development of zero emission power generation alongside oil and gas production to meet global energy demand.

Inventys Carbon Capture Process

Posted by on Wednesday, 16 February, 2011

Inventys, located in Burnaby, British Columbia is a cleantech company that produces technologies for the energy and process industries.

Inventys developed the VeloxoTherm process, a new gas separation technology, which uses a structured adsorbent and a rotating cylindrical frame.

Velexo Therm is a high  energy and capital-efficient technology for capturing carbon dioxide from industrial flue gas streams.

VeloxoTherm process costs less than one third of existing post-combustion CO2 capture technologies and will finally enable the widespread adoption of enhanced oil recovery and carbon sequestration.

The process has the ability to recover the heat energy produced during the absorption of carbon dioxide and use it to release the carbon dioxide, reducing thereby the overall costs.

André Boulet is a co-founder of Inventys and is the  inventor of the VeloxoTherm process. He is an inventor of several advanced gas separation technologies and is cited on more than 20 patent applications in this field.

Inventys was recently awarded 1.9M$ Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to demonstrate the VeloxoTherm process with its consortia partners, which include Suncor Energy, Doosan Babcock, and British Petroleum.

Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is a commercially proven process where CO2 is used to increase the amount of crude oil that can be extracted from an oil field. Since the VeloxoTherm process provides an economical method to separate waste CO2 from industrial flue gases, this waste CO2 can then be used to produce a valuable product – oil.

Inventys is initially developing the VeloxoTherm process for the EOR market and plans to aggressively market it to industrial CO2 emitters that are situated close to planned enhanced oil recovery pipelines.

By 2013, there will be over 500 potential installation sites that fit these requirements in North America alone.

The VeloxoTherm (velox = fast; therm = thermal) gas separation process is a post combustion carbon dioxide capture technol­ogy that has been developed by Inventys Thermal Technologies. This technology enables carbon dioxide to be captured from industrial flue gas streams for 15US$ per tonne of CO2.

The VeloxoTherm process is an intensified temperature swing adsorption process that uses a proprietary structured adsorbent to separate CO2 from almost any industrial flue gas stream.

Simply put, a structured adsorbent is a sorbent material which is arranged into a monolithic structure. The structured adsorbent used in the VeloxoTherm process resembles a honeycomb that preferentially traps CO2 while allowing other gases such as nitrogen and water vapor to pass through it. The favorable balance between hydraulic and transport properties achieved by structured adsorbents significantly increases the gas throughput of the system for a given amount of adsorbent (the specific productivity of the adsorbent). This intensification enables the VeloxoTherm TSA process to manage the very large volume of gas that must be processed from industrial flue gas streams encountered in post combustion CO2 capture applications.

Fixed bed adsorption processes, like the VeloxoTherm process, can be intensified by increasing the feed rate to the process by decreasing the cycle time of the process. The extent to which this approach can be implemented is limited by the pressure drop, mass transfer, and heat transfer characteristics of the adsorbent reactor, all of which are not favorable for a traditional arrangement of adsorbent – packed beds.

The shortcomings of packed bed reactors inherently limit the performance of conventional sorbent systems and therefore these systems are not considered to be bona fide alternatives for the post combustion capture of carbon dioxide. Properly designed structured adsorbents can overcome the limitations of conventional sorbent-based separation processes and greatly enhance their performance and economics.

Structured adsorbents by their nature are immobilized, so fluidization is nonexistent. Also, correctly designed structured adsorbents provide lower pressure drop per unit length than a packed bed of adsorbent, so for low pressure applications, such as post combustion CO2 capture, they are ideal. In addition, structured adsorbents with high cell densities give proportionally better performance than packed beds because of their higher geometrical surface area. Thus structured adsorbents are among the most efficient methods available to pack high adsorbent surface area into a fixed volume while still maintaining low pressure drop.

Adsorption is an exothermic (heat producing) process. When CO2 molecules accumulate on the surface of the structured adsorbent, heat is evolved. When CO2 molecules disperse from the surface during regeneration just the opposite occurs – heat is consumed. As the cycle time of adsorption systems is reduced, management of heat flow during adsorption and desorption becomes increasingly important so that the benefits of superior mass transfer and hydrodynamic benefits offered by structured adsorbents can be realized.

The structured adsorbent developed by Inventys for the VeloxoTherm™ process, however, goes one step further – it has the unique ability to recover the heat energy evolved during adsorption and supply this heat energy to the adsorbent during regeneration. This feature is responsible for the low amount of energy required for adsorbent regeneration – less than 1.5 GJ/tonne of CO2 and is an important factor responsible for the very low net energy consumption for the process.

The VeloxoTherm process is unlike conven­tional adsorption processes that have two or more adsorption reactors operating in an ad­sorption cycle, which is driven by a series of valves. In the VeloxoTherm process the structured adsorbents are fixed in a cylindri­cal frame which rotates. The frame is divid­ed into at least two zones. In the adsorption zone, flue gas enters and CO2 is captured from the stream. As the frame rotates, the structured adsorbents pass into the regenera­tion zone where low-pressure steam is used to release the captured CO2. Be­cause the separation process operates near ambient pressure, a simple sealing mecha­nism can be used to isolate the adsorption and regeneration zones.

The rotary adsorption machine replaces discrete adsorption vessels and the accom­panying complex arrangement of valves and piping. This embodiment has several advan­tages. The rotary adsorption machine is a simple, inexpensive, and a proven design. The rotary adsorption machine can readily be integrated into new and exist­ing chemical processes (heaters, boilers, crackers, cement kilns, blast furnaces, and gas turbines) because it is not tightly inte­grated into existing plant operations. Any in­dustrial facility can continue normal opera­tions during the installation, commissioning, and maintenance of the VeloxoTherm plant.

The VeloxoTherm process is readily scalable. Any number of structures can be assembled to construct a VeloxoTherm plant of nearly any capacity; a plant capacity of 100 tonnes per day of CO2, which would be emitted from a typical process heater in a refinery, would be ap­proximately three meters in diameter where­as a 80 meter diameter VeloxoTherm plant would be capable of processing 5 mega­tonnes of CO2 annually. Having a projected capital cost of US$132-million, a VeloxoTherm plant of this capacity would be suitable for installation on a 500­megaWatt pulverized coal fired power plant.

The VeloxoTherm process is able to capture CO2 from nearly any industrial flue gas stream for a total cost (operating + capi­tal) of 5 US$ per barrel of oil recovered, which is equivalent to a capture cost of 15 US$/tonne of CO2. The VeloxoTherm process presents purified CO2 at low pres­sure so compression and transportation are required for use in EOR applications. This will translate into a field-delivered price of approximately 35US$/tonne of CO2, de­pending, on the nature of the EOR project (the cost for compression and transportation are, of course, application and EOR site spe­cific).

As of now it appears that the industry is gungho about the Veloxo Therm process. Particularly the carbon capture cost of  15 $ per ton of CO2.

Looks like carbon capture and storage is going to happen soon, if Velexo Therm works.

Australia’s CCS Flagship Program Funding Affected

Posted by on Monday, 14 February, 2011

Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter. It needs to invest maximum in carbon capture and storage. If Australia can come up with retrofitting models that can be fitted with existing coal power plants, it can extend the life span of its coal. Nothing better than capturing the carbon and sequestering it.

If Australian universities can do research in fields like saline aquifers, ocean storage – (most of the potential identified by Australia are in the ocean for storing of CO2) and

Coal bed methane among others, it would be leading the world in Carbon capture and Storage research. The Australian Government should be funding the most in doing research in different types of carbon capture. Carbon capture and Storage Flagship program of Australia is a very progressive and positive one.

The Australian Government has a comprehensive climate change policy to support its commitment to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.

Everything was going well till the floods in the Queensland province. The floods caused extensive damage to the existing infrastructure and livelihood of millions of people has been threatened due to its extensive devastation. That was an immense national challenge of rebuilding flood-affected regions across Australia. The Government needed AUS $ 5.6 billion to rebuild the flood affected regions. The Government has decided that two-thirds of that funding of flood affected areas will be delivered through spending cuts across many flagship programs. The CCS program is one such program that faces a spending cut.

The Australian PM has announced spending cuts and deferrals of AUS$250 million to its Flagship CCS program and the Global CCS Institute to help pay for Queensland flood relief. AUS$160 million will be deferred until after 2015 while AUS$90 million will be cut from the budget.

It is somewhat paradoxical. The floods in Australia many propound is because of Climate change, a consequence of burning coal for power. The CCS flagship program is a visionary and hence the Australian government should spend more money in doing  research in fields like storing carbon dioxide in products viz Gasoline, cement, fertilizer, and in biomass co firing, mineral carbonation etc. The more innovations Australia makes, the more life they give for their coal and the mother earth.



Research in Carbon Capture Sequestration

Posted by on Monday, 14 February, 2011

RECS stands for Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration program.

Supported by the Office of Fossil Energy (FE), DOE, the program is for graduate students and early career professionals.

In fact, incidentally it is currently accepting applications for the RECS 2011.

RECS 2011, a collaboration between EnTech Strategies, Southern Company and SECARB-Ed, is supported by DOE, FE and the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Other sponsors  include Alstom, American Electric Power and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

At present RECS accepts only 30 students in a year. The course is free. Not only is the course tution free, it also covers all housing and meal costs. The course lasts for just 10 days.

Firstly, I feel that the objective of the course currently  is to create future leaders and innovators in the area of carbon capture and storage.

President Obama has said in his recent highly popular speech, ” …. we need to out innovate the world”.

You can take it as America should out innovate China or America should out innovate Germany or Japan or India.

May be that is what he meant.

The dire need for mankind right now is to out innovate nature. Out innovate climate change.

Yes mankind has to out innovate climate change.

So, there is a need to make this course mandatory for most power plants all over the world.

Research in Carbon capture and storage or Research in CCS or sequestration, is important. Research experience is even more important as it will spur the young minds to get into action. Which is exactly what the power plants need. To capture carbon and sequester.

Every power plant should have atleast two  young employees who should have gone through the course within the next few years.
And they should have sponsored two bright undergrad or post grad students from their country. Exceptionally bright students.

There should be 100 students per batch and atleast 20 batches a year.

In other words, the objective would be to expose bright young minds to the feasibility and experience of research in carbon capture and sequestration.

The course must be charged and fees collected from respective powerplants.

Let us help create innovators who can out innovate climate change using CCS.

CLIMAX 500 Climate Tech Startup Snapshot - Top 10 startups in 50 decarbonization avenues

Renewable Energy - Utility Scale Solar | Distributed Solar | Solar Thermal | Wind Power | Biomass heating and power | Biofuels | Hydro Power | Geothermal Energy

Energy Efficiency - Energy Efficient Buildings | Industrial Waste Heat Recovery | Low Carbon Thermal Power | Energy Efficient Industrial Equipment | Smart Grids | Heat Pumps | Digital for Decarbonization

Energy Storage - Battery Storage | Thermal & Mechanical Storage | Green Hydrogen

Agriculture & Food - Sustainable Forestry | Regenerative Agriculture | Smart Farming | Low Carbon Food | Agro Waste Management

Materials - Bio-based Materials | Advanced Materials | Product Use Efficiency | Industrial Resource Efficiency

Waste Management - Reducing Food Waste | Solid Waste Management

Water - Water Use Efficiency 

Decarbonizing Industries - Low Carbon Metals | Low Carbon Chemicals & Fertilizers | Low Carbon Construction Materials | Low Carbon Textiles & Fashion | Decarbonizing Oil & Gas Sector | Corporate Carbon Management

Low Carbon Mobility - Electric Mobility | Low Carbon Trucking | Low Carbon Marine Transport | Low Carbon Aviation | Low Carbon ICE Vehicles | Mass Transit 

GHG Management - CO2 Capture & Storage | C2V - CO2 to Value | Reducing Emissions from Livestock | Reducing Non-CO2 Industrial & Agricultural Emissions | Managing Large Carbon Sinks

Others - Low Carbon Lifestyles | Multi-stakeholder Collaboration | Moonshots