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  • This report forms part of the international SACS (Saline Aquifer CO2 Storage) project. The project aims to monitor and predict the behaviour of injected CO2 in the Utsira Sand reservoir at the Sleipner field in the northern North Sea, to assess the regional storage potential of the Utsira reservoir, and to simulate and model likely chemical interactions of CO2 with the host rock. This is the final report of Work Area 1 in SACS, whose aims were to provide a full geological characterisation of the Utsira Sand and its caprock. The report summarises the key findings of the component subtasks of Work Area 1. The report also provides references to the various SACS Technical Reports wherein the full details of the scientific work can be found. The report can be downloaded from http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/511461/.

  • The objective of the EU SiteChar Project was to facilitate the implementation of CO2 geological storage in Europe by developing a methodology for the assessment of potential storage sites and the preparation of storage permit applications. Research was conducted through a strong collaboration of experienced industrial and academic research partners aiming to advance a portfolio of sites to a (near-) completed feasibility stage, ready for detailed front-end engineering and design and produce practical guidelines for site characterisation. SiteChar was a 3 year project supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. This report introduces the lay reader to the research and concepts developed in the SiteChar project and can be downloaded from http://www.sitechar-co2.eu/SciPublicationsData.aspx?IdPublication=351&IdType=557.

  • Membrane processes are a promising alternative to the more classical post-combustion capture technologies due to the reduced maintenance of the process, the absence of dangerous solvents and their smaller footprint. This project aims at supporting the development of new mixed matrix membranes for post-combustion applications. Mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) are composite materials formed by embedding inorganic fillers into a polymeric matrix in order to overcome the upper bound and combine the characteristics of the two solid phases: mechanical properties, economical processing capabilities and permeability of the polymer and selectivity of the filler. Despite several studies on the concept, the interactions between the two phases and their effect on the transport properties are not well understood. Yet, this fundamental knowledge is crucial in order to design the reliable materials needed for real-world-applications. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C1-36.

  • Published Papers: 1) Brown, W.J., Mound, J.E. \& Livermore, P.W., (2013) Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, Vol 223, pp 62-76 Jerks abound: an analysis of geomagnetic observatory data from 1957 to 2008 doi:10.1016/j.pepi.2013.06.001 2) Cox, G.A., Livermore, P.W. & Mound, J.E., (2014) Geophysical Journal International. Vol 196, pp 1311--1329. Forward models of torsional waves: dispersion and geometric effects doi:10.1093/gji/ggt414 3) Hori, K., Jones, C.A. & Teed, R.J. (2015) Geophysical Research Letters, vol 42, pp 6622--6629. Slow magnetic Rossby waves in the Earth's Core. doi:10.1002/2015GL064733 4) Teed, R.J., Jones, C.A. & Tobias, S.M., (2014) Geophysical Journal International, vol 196, pp 724--735. The dynamics and excitation of torsional waves in geodynamo simulations. doi:10.1093/gji/ggt432 5) Teed, R.J., Jones, C.A. & Tobias, S.M., (2015) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol 419, pp 22-31. The transition to earth-like torsional oscillations in magnetoconvection simulations. Doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.02.045

  • This project aims to build on and strengthen joint industry research programmes between Edinburgh, Doosan Power Systems in the UK and Sulzer ChemTech, a world leading manufacturer of separation processes equipment, with the objectives to move beyond current concepts for designing CO2 absorption columns for base-load operation, and towards new columns capable of meeting the requirements for flexible and highly dynamic operation of CCS power plants. It is an important research for the UK to ensure that conventional power plants fitted with CCS can become a source of dispatchable and low carbon energy to complement non-dispatchable renewable technologies such as wind or solar power. We propose to demonstrate the capabilities of novel ways to use solvent property instrumentation to significantly enhance the dynamic flexibility of the amine pilot plant at the UK CCS Research Centre Pilot Advanced Capture Testing facilities and to develop an underpinning understanding of the capabilities of state-of-the-art hardware, such as structured packing,liquid distributors, used in and around packed columns. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-214.

  • Flexibility in power plants with amine based carbon dioxide (CO2) capture is identified in the literature as a way of improving power plant revenues. Despite the prior art, the value of flexibility in power plants with CO2 capture as a way to improve power plant revenues is still unclear. Most studies are based on simplifying assumptions about the capabilities of power plants to operate at part load and to regenerate additional solvent after interim storage of solvent. This work addresses this gap by examining the operational flexibility of coal power plants with amine based CO2 capture, using a rigorous fully integrated model. The part-load performance, with capture and compression bypass, and with interim solvent storage with delayed regeneration, of two coal power plant configurations designed for base load operation with capture, and with the ability to fully bypass capture, is reported. With advanced integration options, including boiler sliding pressure control, uncontrolled steam extraction with a floating crossover pressure, constant stripper pressure operation and compressor inlet guide vanes, a significant reduction of the electricity output penalty at 50% fuel input is observed, from 458 kWh/tCO2 to 345 kWh/tCO2, compared to a reduction from 361 to 342 kWh/tCO2 at 100% fuel input. Advanced integration options for improved part-load allow for maximum additional solvent regeneration, although to a lower magnitude than conventional integration options. The latter can maintain CO2 flow export within 10% of maximum flow across 30% to 78% of MCR (Maximum continuous rating). One hour of interim solvent storage at 100% MCR is evaluated to be optimally regenerated in 4 hrs at 55%MCR, and 3 hours at 30% MCR, providing rigorously validated useful guidelines for the increasing number of techno-economic studies on power plant flexibility, and CO2 flow profiles for further studies on integrated CO2 networks. The paper is available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1750583616300275, DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ijggc.2016.01.027.

  • A three dimensional hydrodynamic model with a coupled carbonate speciation sub-model is used to simulate large additions of CO2 into the North Sea, representing leakages at potential carbon sequestration sites. A range of leakage scenarios are conducted at two distinct release sites, allowing an analysis of the seasonal, inter-annual and spatial variability of impacts to the marine ecosystem. Seasonally stratified regions are shown to be more vulnerable to CO2 release during the summer as the added CO2 remains trapped beneath the thermocline, preventing outgasing to the atmosphere. On average, CO2 injected into the northern North Sea is shown to reside within the water column twice as long as an equivalent addition in the southern North Sea before reaching the atmosphere. Short-term leakages of 5000 tonnes CO2 over a single day result in substantial acidification at the release sites (up to -1.92 pH units), with significant perturbations (greater than 0.1 pH units) generally confined to a 10 km radius. Long-term CO2 leakages sustained for a year may result in extensive plumes of acidified seawater, carried by major advective pathways. Whilst such scenarios could be harmful to marine biota over confined spatial scales, continued unmitigated CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are predicted to result in greater and more long-lived perturbations to the carbonate system over the next few decades. This is a publication in QICS Special Issue - International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Jack J.C. Phelps et. al. Doi:10.1016/j.ijggc.2014.10.013.

  • Advances in our understanding of the Earth's climate system will rely on our ability to link high-resolution sedimentary archives from the oceans, ice-cores and terrestrial sequences, and to interpret these records in the context of novel Earth system modeling approaches. Few places exist in the world where sufficiently detailed and unambiguous marine-ice-terrestrial linkages are possible. One challenge for IODP, and the broader drilling community in general, is to identify and recover marine, ice and terrestrial sequences from appropriate locations and with adequate temporal resolution to study processes of the integrated climate system. One such region is the southwest Iberian Margin where it has been demonstrated that the surface oxygen isotopic record could be correlated precisely to temperature variations (i.e., d18O) in Greenland ice cores. By comparison, the benthic d18O signal in the same core resembled the temperature record from Antarctica. Moreover, the narrow continental shelf and proximity of the Tagus River results in the rapid delivery of terrestrial material to the deep-sea environment off Portugal, thereby providing a record of atmospheric changes and permitting correlation of marine and ice core records to European terrestrial sequences. This is the only place in the ocean where such marine-ice-terrestrial correlations have been demonstrated unambiguously. It is therefore highly desirable to extend the Iberian Margin record to encompass the full range of Plio-Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycles by drilling with the JOIDES Resolution (JR). Towards this end, Proposal 771-Full was submitted to IODP by an international group of 16 proponents led by the UK. The proposal was well received and reviewed by the Science Steering and Evaluation Panel (SSEP), but the IODP Site Survey Panel (SSP) identified major inadequacies in the quality of the seismic data: "The panel raised several concerns on the suitability of the submitted data with regard to its appropriateness, both to image the target properly and with regard to the site location. The panel also discussed the need for 2 high-resolution lines and considered that places where Mass Transport Deposits (MTDs) or closely spaced faults were present deserved these 2 high-resolution lines." This proposal requests 25 days of ship time to collect the necessary seismic and sediment data needed to meet the SSP requirements and recommendations. Several "stand-alone" scientific objectives are also proposed related to the modern hydrography and sedimentary processes on the southwest Iberian Margin, and calibration of palaeoceanographic proxies used for reconstructing past changes in deep-water circulation. This value-added science will make effective use of ship time and contribute key information needed to interpret the downcore records to be obtained by IODP.

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a promising means of directly lowering CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. However, concerns about the possibility of CO2 leakage are contributing to slow the widespread adoption of the technology. Research to date has failed to identify a cheap and effective means of measuring how CO2 injected underground is being stored. CO2 can be stored in four different ways: 1.Physically - where gaseous or liquid CO2 is trapped beneath an impermeable sealing cap rock. 2.Residually - where CO2 is trapped within individual and dead end spaces between rock grains (pores). 3.Solubility - where CO2 is dissolved into the formation water, which fills the pores between rock grains. 4.Mineralisation - where CO2 reacts with the host rock forming new carbonate minerals within the pores. Importantly, physically trapped CO2 is mobile and able to leak should a break form in the overlying sealing rocks. CO2 stored by the other three means is not mobile or buoyant, and hence will not migrate out of the CO2 storage site should the seal fail. It is therefore critical for reassurance to the public and regulators of CO2 storage that reliable ways to measure how much of the CO2 injected into the subsurface for storage is locked away in these secure means. Few research studies to date have quantified exactly how much CO2 is stored by residual and solubility trapping across an entire storage site. Estimations have been made from laboratory studies on rock core samples, but these only represent rocks from a small part of the CO2 storage site. Extending these results to infer how CO2 will be stored in the entire storage site is difficult as the rock cores do not represent the variation seen across the storage site. It is possible to use seismic waves to image the CO2 injected. This has proved to be a reliable means of imaging large amounts of CO2 but is unable to image thin layers of CO2 or % dissolved CO2 which makes it very difficult to quantify exactly how CO2 is being stored. Hence, there is a need to develop a reliable test which can be performed at a single CO2 injection well during assessment of a potential site for CO2 storage. This would allow the amount of CO2 which will be residually trapped in the storageformation to be determined. Such a test will lower the risk of mis-estimating the storage capacity of a site and provide a commercial operator with greater reassurance of the predictability of their proposed storage site. We will work with one of the world's leading research organisations focused on CCS, CO2CRC. They own and operate a dedicated research facility into CO2 storage, at Otway CO2 in Australia. This is uniquely suitable because in mid-2011 Otway undertook a successful experimental programme focused on determining residual trapping. Building on these experiments and in direct collaboration with CO2CRC we will use water geochemistry to establish the fate of CO2 injected into the Otway site by quantifying both the level of CO2 residually and solubility trapped and at what distance into the reservoir. This will be achieved using noble gas tracer injection and recovery, to determine residual trapping levels, and by independent oxygen stable isotope measurements to quantify the amount of CO2 dissolution. These tests will calibrate downhole geophysical techniques which CO2CRC will use. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-204.

  • It is crucial that the engineered seals of boreholes in the vicinity of a deep storage facility remain effective for considerable timescales if the long-term geological containment of stored CO2 is to be effective. These timescales extend beyond those achievable by laboratory experiments or industrial experience. Study of the carbonation of natural Ca silicate hydrate (CSH) phases provides a useful insight into the alteration processes and evolution of cement phases over long-timescales more comparable with those considered in performance assessments. Samples from two such natural analogues in Northern Ireland have been compared with samples from laboratory experiments on the carbonation of Portland cement. Samples showed similar carbonation reaction processes even though the natural and experimental samples underwent carbonation under very different conditions and timescales. These included conversion of the CSH phases to CaCO3 and SiO2, and the formation of a well-defined reaction front. In laboratory experiments the reaction front is associated with localised Ca migration, localised matrix porosity increase, and localised shrinkage of the cement matrix with concomitant cracking. Behind the reaction front is a zone of CaCO3 precipitation that partly seals porosity. A broader and more porous/permeable reaction zone was created in the laboratory experiments compared to the natural samples, and it is possible that short-term experiments might not fully replicate slower, longer-term processes. That the natural samples had only undergone limited carbonation, even though they had been exposed to atmospheric CO2 or dissolved View the MathML sourceHCO3- in groundwater for several thousands of years, may indicate that the limited amounts of carbonate mineral formation may have protected the CSH phases from further reaction. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2012.09.007. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883292712002594.