CETRi is actively researching and demonstrating the possibilities of drastic improvements in Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies, as well as methods for minimizing the costs associated with these technologies.
Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, is the process of separating carbon dioxide (CO2) from carbon-based (fossil) fuels like coal or oil, and then storing the captured CO2 in secure locations, namely geological formations. CCS is one of the best technologies available for reducing CO2 emissions because it is economic, it allows us to continue utilizing fossil fuels while reducing the environmental impact, and it is already allowing us to make large-scale CO2 reductions. Plus, unlike many other CO2 reduction technologies, CCS can be implemented on a world-wide scale within a very short time-frame. The most economically attractive geolocial storage sites are partially depleted oil reservoirs that are suitable for CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovert (EOR). While the CO2 is used to economically increase oil production, large portions of it remain physically trapped in the reservoir. Sufficient CO2 is trapped to more than make up for the amount of CO2 emissions that will result from utilizing the oil that is produced.
The technologies and methods involved in geological storage combined with EOR are being developed through the IEA GHG Weyburn-Midale CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project. This project is the world’s first and largest field demonstration of geological storage, and the University of Regina played a significant role in its planning, development, and research. Other storage options include injecting CO2 into deep saline aquifers, which are very large reservoirs that offer decades of storage potential, and storing CO2 in depleted oil and gas fields and unmineable coalbeds.
Post-combustion CO2 capture involves separating the CO2 from the gas that is produced after a fossil fuel has been burned. (Typically, this is called flue gas, which is the gas that is released from a smokestack.) Unlike other capture processes, post-combustion capture can be accomplished simply by modifying existing conventional fossil fuel combustion facilities. In post-combustion capture, CO2-rich flue gas is passed through a separation column where CO2 is extracted from the gas using a chemical solvent. The cleaned flue gas is then released to the atmostphere, and the CO2-rich solvent is sent to a regeneration column where the CO2 is separated from the solvent using steam-generated heat. The CO2 is then ready to be processed for storage, while the solvent is recycled into the separation column. Processes and solvents for the post-combustion CO2 capture are being developed by the University of Regina’s Clean Energy Technologies Research Institute (CETRi).