EGI conducts numerous projects in carbon sequestration wherein large amounts of anthropogenic CO₂ emissions are targeted for injection into deep saline aquifers or other suitable geologic formations.
In partnership with departments and colleges, EGI’s research portfolio on low-carbon technologies includes work in carbon capture, carbon utilization and direct air capture of CO₂.
GLOBAL TEMPERATURES ARE INCREASING
Global temperatures are increasing. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing. New carbon management legislation and initiatives are based on the assumption that increased CO2 levels are a major cause of global warming.
Several ways of reducing CO2 emissions and CO2 levels in the atmosphere include: improved efficiency in power generation by upgrading existing plants, higher efficiency in all new plants, relying more on renewable energy and nuclear-generated power, distribution of energy consumption among other resources and finally, carbon capture and storage (CCS). Of all emissions reduction mechanisms, CCS is projected to provide the largest contribution to emissions reduction in the near-term (~decade time scale).
WHAT IS CARBON CAPTURE
Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) begins with capture of CO2 at its source, such as a coal fired power plant, transporting the CO2 to a location where it can be sequestered or stored safely away from the earth’s atmosphere and oceans.
Three types of CO2 sequestration are under way: terrestrial sequestration, geologic sequestration, and mineralization. Geologic sequestration is storage of CO2 within geological formations under the earth’s surface. Oil, gas unmineable coal and saline water reservoirs are those best suited for CO2 sequestration.
CARBON MANAGEMENT INITIATIVES
1. San Juan CarbonSAFE
Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise (CarbonSAFE) Initiative, New Mexico Tech, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, Enchant Energy, and the University of Utah are working in partnership toward the ultimate goal of storing 72-120 million metric tonnes of CO2 in the San Juan Basin. This U.S. Department of Energy-funded project entails extensive site characterization, drilling a stratigraphic well to validate characterization efforts, acquiring an EPA Class VI permit for injection, performing injections for potentially over two decades, and finally, monitoring the site to ensure there is no leakage.
2. Carbon Utilization & Storage Partnership of the Western U.S. (CUSP)
CUSP is one of four regional U.S. Department of Energy initiatives focused on commercial carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). CUSP is a consortium of universities, research institutions, state geological surveys, national laboratories, and industry. CUSP states pursue projects unique to their needs, and the University of Utah is focused on gathering data to support analytical and optimization models to evaluate CCUS potential and readiness across the CUSP region to support more rapid implementation of commercial-scale technologies. The partnership collaborates with the three other regional initiatives to form a cohesive national program.
3. Injection Of Flue Gas Improves CO2 Permeability And Storage Capacity In Coal: A Promising Technology
4. Fault Characterization Project
The primary objective of the project is to significantly advance the state-of-the-art technologies for detecting and characterizing faults above and below a target CO2 injection zone. The project team will carry out field deployment of an integrated suite of cost-effective and novel geophysical, geochemical, and geomechanical technologies for detection and characterization of faults and fractures in a characterization well drilled as part of the San Juan CarbonSAFE project. The data and analysis results will be used to assess potential fault activation hazards attributing to large-scale CO2 injection in the San Juan Basin.
5. Intermountain West Sustainability & Transitions (I-WEST)
I-WEST is a U.S. Department of Energy-funded effort to develop a technology roadmap to transition the region to an economically sustainable, carbon neutral energy system. The roadmap will outline ways for the Intermountain West states to meet challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and build an equitable energy transition strategy. I-WEST states include Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. It is anticipated that the roadmap will be released later this year and the initiative may launch a second phase with efforts focused on implementation strategies. (I-WEST Website)
6. Multi-Scale Fluid-Solid Interactions in Architected & Natural Materials (MUSE)
The mission of MUSE is to create new understanding of fluid and solid interfacial properties by integrating multi-scale experimental methods, including state-of-the-art microscopy imaging, and validated multi-scale, physics-based modeling of hierarchical, architected, and natural nanostructured materials of varying levels of physical and chemical heterogeneities. The specific outcomes of the project will be to establish a multi-scale scientific basis for developing several energy and environmental technologies. These include reducing water use in fracturing operations, enhancing the efficiency of engineered geothermal systems, hydrocarbon recovery with a reduced environmental footprint, and compressed gas storage. A better understanding of the science of interfaces will facilitate the advancement of materials and processes for engineered separation of fluids. Translational understanding of nanoporous materials is essential for several technologically important applications including energy storage, batteries, supercapacitors, fuel cells, solar cells, storage of gaseous fuels, catalysts, photocatalysts and catalyst supports, separations technology, and sensors
7. Improving Production in the Emerging Paradox Oil Play
The Paradox Play project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and led by the University of Utah. The project team includes the Utah Geological Survey, Brigham Young University, and industry stakeholders. Project efforts focus on direct measurement and characterization of not only the Cane Creek shale production zone, but also the extensive set of alternating clastics and evaporites above the shale. With the newly-drilled field laboratory (9,450’ deep science well), the team is developing the tools and strategies necessary to more completely tap into this underutilized resource while also reducing environmental impacts from imprecise exploration and production activities.
8. SMART Initiative Phase 1
Science-Informed Machine Learning to Accelerate Real-time (SMART) Decisions in Subsurface Applications – The primary goal of the SMART initiative is to transform reservoir management through significant improvements in subsurface visualization, exploiting machine learning technology to achieve speed and enhanced detail. The University of Utah recently concluded its work on Phase 1 of the SMART project and submitted an application to undertake work in Phase 2. As of May 23, 2022, the team is waiting for a response regarding its Phase 2 application.
9. Southwest Regional Partnership (SWP): Phase III Commercial Scale Geologic CCUS Deployment
The primary objective of the SWP Phase III effort is to provide a blueprint for future CCUS projects in the U.S. by exhibiting and evaluating an active commercial-scale CCUS operation, and demonstrating associated effective site characterization, monitoring, verification, accounting, and risk assessment. The project team continues an ongoing site characterization, simulation, monitoring and tracking effort of over one million tonnes net total of CO2 injected in the subsurface of an active and expanding enhanced oil recovery operation in Ochiltree County, northern Texas, and injection is already underway by a commercial operator in the Farnsworth Unit (FWU) of the Anadarko Basin, with the primary target reservoir the Pennsylvanian-aged Morrow Sandstone.
CO2 sequestation fieldwork in Texas (2008 )
Surface/Subsurface monitoring technologies/methods
Unconventional Play Characterization of the Cane Creek in the Paradox Basin
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