DOE Seeks To Boost Usage Of Carbon Capture Tech

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By Irina Slav, Oilprice.com

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has approached the National Petroleum Council to help find effective applications of carbon capture technology in oil and gas production, Reuters reports, citing a meeting of the 200-member industry body with Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

While carbon capture technology is certainly “exciting”, to use the Secretary of Energy’s description, it is quite costly, which has so far compromised its commercial viability. That’s why Perry asked the Council to study the ways in which carbon emissions could be captured from coal-burning power plants and used as an enhanced oil and gas recovery tool by injecting the chemical into wells.

Last week, Perry announced the allocation of US$36 million for the advancement of carbon capture technologies with the aim of making them practically applicable. “This funding opportunity will provide for further innovation on methods for capturing carbon emissions for storage and other utilization efforts, as well as underscore this Administration’s commitment to both environmental and economic security,” the Energy Secretary said in the release.

The money will come from the Office of Fossil Energy, which might see its budget cut by as much as 56 percent if President Trump’s proposal to this effect is approved. The Office of Fossil Energy is the department in charge of carbon capture research.

There are many projects involving carbon capture and storage or utilization. The technology reduces harmful carbon emissions and puts them to good use, which is theoretically a perfect-case scenario. However, storing and utilizing carbon emissions is expensive, for the time being, at least, which makes the task Perry gave to the Petroleum Council rather challenging.

Still, there are a few promising examples of CC technology. One is Net Power, a project that uses a new power generation cycle. The companies behind the project say it can utilize carbon much more cheaply than other projects. Another is Petra Nova, a joint venture between NRG and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration, which captures 90 percent of the CO2 emissions from a 240-MW slipstream of flue gas. The carbon dioxide will be used for enhanced oil recovery at the West Ranch field in Texas.

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