CCS / CCUS: Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage

Sist oppdatert: Nov 22, 2021

The Paris agreement calls for urgent and drastic cuts in CO2 emissions from all sectors of society to prevent the disastrous effects of climate change. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plays a crucial role for energy-intensive industries, such as cement, steel and waste management, where there are few good options for eliminating process-based emissions. CCS can also be applied to energy production to generate clean energy from fossil fuels or carbon-negative energy from biofuels.

CCS is already a commercial technology with two CO2 storage projects under operation since 1996 on the Norwegian continental shelf, Sleipner and Snøhvit. Norway's largest climate project Longship will be the first to demonstrate the full CCS chain from capture at the Norcem cement plant via ship transport and pipeline to underground disposal at the Northern Lights storage site. Longship is the first of several flagship CCS projects that are in advanced planning stages around Europe and UK.

For CCS / CCUS to contribute significantly to climate goals, CO2 will need to be pumped below the sea floor in very large quantities, safely and permanently trapped deep underground, and monitored to detect any problems before they occur. The marine environment will need to be protected against adverse effects.

Societal acceptance is a crucial component for CCS / CCUS to succeed as an essential climate technology, and better assessment of stakeholder opinion and engagement is needed.

Finally, CO2 utilization technology needs to be further developed to be economical at scale and to build a business case for CCUS as a value-added industry across multiple sectors.

NORCE contributes with needed research to enable large-scale deployment of CCS and CCUS technology. NORCE focuses on solving technical, societal, and economic challenges through collaborative research within an internationally recognized research program. Experienced research staff utilize state-of-the art infrastructure both physical laboratories and specialized software and decision workflows to solve the acute challenges within CCS / CCUS.

Our research contributions are specifically focused on CO2 storage, utilization and societal acceptance.

Reservoir Processes

We utilize our world-leading expertise in reservoir technology to understand the processes that control the effectiveness of CO2 injection and trapping through laboratory experiments (SCAL) and modeling. NORCE expertise in modeling multi-physics CO2 storage processes has led to pioneering reservoir simulation technology that helps to build confidence in CO2 storage forecasts at the field- and basin-scale. The subsurface knowledge and models developed at NORCE enable operators to optimally design CO2 storage projects to maximize how much CO2 can be safely injected and to enable efficient conversion of injected CO2 into a stable and secure form.

Containment and Leakage

NORCE expertise in geology and reservoir simulation can also help to characterize and quantify the risk of leakage along natural or man-made imperfections. Research focuses on reducing uncertainty regarding the leakage potential of faults, fractures or poorly sealed oil and gas wells.

NORCE has developed several software tools to enable leakage assessment: OPM Flow reservoir simulator to assess fault and fracture leakage, and the P&A Leakage Calculator to assess leakage potential of micro annuli along abandoned petroleum wells.

NORCE is working to develop new technology for plugging leakage pathways using innovative treatments. Petroleum expertise also helps to find good solutions for shutting down old oil and gas wells where there may be a risk of CO2 leakage if wells are not sealed properly.

Research experience in bio-geochemistry is used to develop bio-based solutions for plugging leakage pathways deeper in the reservoir.

Site Monitoring

Geophysical Monitoring

Geophysical monitoring is a key component of any CO₂-storage project with respect to technical importance and societal acceptance. NORCE excels in developing sensor technology, and geophysical monitoring methodology for tracking CO2 movement in the storage reservoir and for identifying hazardous pressure buildup. Research addresses assimilation of various time-lapse data, such as conventional seismic, fiber-optic seismic, electromagnetic, and gravity, for monitoring of reservoir and overburden barriers. Emphasis is put on joint utilization of different data types, and on quantification of the uncertainty in the resulting estimates.

Marine Monitoring

NORCE expertise in marine monitoring leakage to the sea, including development of sensors, sensor network systems and Bayesian methods for leakage detection. NORCE expertise in measurement science and sensor technology contributes develop reliable techniques for monitoring pipes that transport CO2 at various points along the full CCS chain from capture plant to the final storage site.

Storage Management

Reservoir Simulation for CO2 Storage

Reservoir simulation is essential for assessment, development, operation, and closure of CO2 storage projects. Simulation tools have been developed at NORCE based on understanding gained in laboratory experiments, pilot studies and ongoing industry projects. Many CO2 storage simulation tools employ the same methods that have been developed for petroleum reservoir simulation, e.g. black-oil or compositional methods, which are a reasonable starting point given both petroleum reservoirs and CO2 storage involve multiphase fluid flow in geological media. However, there are key differences for CO2 storage in saline aquifers for which petroleum reservoir simulation needs to be adapted. NORCE has focused for several years on improving reservoir simulation technology to meet the unique challenges of storage management.

Data Assimilation

Even the best process models may have uncertain parameters. The quality of such a model can be improved by data assimilation, that is, using measurements of some of the process variables to reduce uncertainty in the process-model parameters. Sometimes, this is the end product of data assimilation, like when seismic data are used to identify subsurface structures, while sometimes, the real aim is to improve the predictive power of the process model, like in weather forecasting. Ensemble-based data assimilation is key to operational weather and climate forecasting and has the last decade become the dominating technique for improving the predictive power of reservoir flow models used for decision support in petroleum reservoir management.

Optimization

Mathematical optimization has a vast range of applications, e.g. within economy, mechanics, and engineering disciplines. Our research has been motivated from petroleum engineering applications, with the goal of providing better reservoir management strategies for petroleum and CO2 storage. This does not only provide higher net income for the operating company but will also contribute to better energy efficiency and reduced geographical and environmental footprint. NORCE has a long history of developing improved reservoir management tools by using ensemble methods for optimization and model updating (data assimilation) in a closed-loop fashion. Recently the effort has been extended to also include decision support that uses the ensemble of models as input in the decision-making process.
Decision support under uncertainty

Recent trends within artificial intelligence and machine learning suggest that one could base decisions on observed data alone, that is, without reference to an underlying theory. When such a theory is available, however, sound decision support should take mutually into account theoretical process understanding, observed data, uncertainties in the process model and uncertainties in the data. This can be achieved by combining computer simulations with the ensemble-based methodology for data assimilation, uncertainty prediction, optimization, and decision making.

Societal Acceptance

NORCE expertise within environmental sociology to understand the relationship between science and policy making. Research through public surveys is used to measure public opinion on relevant environmental issues, including negative emissions technologies and climate change. Research generates new knowledge what drives support or opposition to large-scale CCS and to international transport of CO2, which is valuable for developing appropriate policy and communication around CCS deployment.

CO2 Utilization

NORCE is also researching how to utilize CO2 as a resource. NORCE is part of the Algae Pilot at Mongstad, where we utilize photosynthesis, the combination of nutrients, water, CO2 and sunlight, to produce omega-3-rich microalgae, which can become a new source of omega-3 in fish feed.

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