Power generation and industrial processes pump nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the global atmosphere each year. An initiative from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy seeks to capture some of those emissions and return them to the ground. Battelle has been selected to lead research efforts to address knowledge and institutional gaps in the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
DOE’s Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) initiative, announced in 2016, provides funding for cost-shared projects to determine the feasibility of onshore and offshore carbon storage and identify safe storage locations. Identifying commercial-ready storage sites is critical for deployment of advanced capture technologies under development in the U.S. and worldwide. The ultimate objective is to develop commercial-scale geologic storage sites capable of cumulatively storing more than 50 million metric tons of CO2. The DOE has set a goal of having these sites constructed and permitted by 2025 in time for use by the next generation of cost-effective carbon capture technologies.
Rising CO2 emissions from power generation and other industrial sources have been implicated as a major driver of climate change. CCS, which has been successfully deployed in a small number of locations, is seen as a promising solution that could help the energy industry slow or halt the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere.
CCS involves capturing CO2 generated from combustion of fossil fuels at the source – such as a coal-fired power plant – before it escapes into the atmosphere. CO2 is then transported to a geologic storage site where it can be used for enhanced oil recovery in depleted fields or injected deep into the ground for permanent storage. These methods could reduce CO2 emissions from power plants and other industrial sources by up to 90 percent, allow for more oil to be extracted from existing oil fields and make continued use of fossil fuels significantly more sustainable worldwide. In a carbon-constrained future, commercial carbon storage could become mainstream. However, to have CCS as an option for addressing CO2 emissions, more work remains to be done to identify potential storage sites, characterize the risks of deep geologic injection, and evaluate emerging CCS technologies.
Battelle will be working with DOE to address these research gaps. Battelle has been working on the leading edge of CCS research and technology for two decades. The CarbonSAFE initiative builds on Battelle’s previous field pilots with the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) and Mountaineer CCS Product Validation Facility, as well as several research studies aimed at better understanding subsurface storage potential. The Battelle-led MRCSP, part of DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program, brings together nearly 40 government, industry and university partners across ten states and has completed several CCS validation projects.
Over the next 18 months, Battelle will work on three CarbonSAFE projects across the Midwest and Central Plains. This pre-feasibility work focuses on the identification of early technical and non-technical challenges at potential carbon storage sites. Teams will be developed to address these challenges and identify knowledge gaps. Pending selection by DOE, these projects will move towards a detailed feasibility assessment of CO2 storage infrastructure in the next phase.
Battelle’s work through MRCSP and CarbonSAFE is bringing CCS closer to full commercial-scale deployment, should policymakers choose to use this as one of the options for emission reduction combined with enhanced resource recovery. These projects will help the energy industry address climate change concerns while continuing to meet the needs of a global economy highly dependent on fossil fuels.