Washington, D.C. — A breakthrough carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) project in Texas has begun capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and piping it to an oilfield for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR).
The project at Air Products and Chemicals hydrogen production facility in Port Arthur, Texas, is significant for demonstrating both the effectiveness and commercial viability of CCUS technology as an option in helping mitigate atmospheric CO2 emissions. Funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the project is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. DOE is collaborating with industry in cost-sharing arrangements to demonstrate these next-generation technologies.
This event marks a milestone in DOE’s Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (ICCS) program: progressing beyond research and development to a demonstration scale that can be readily replicated and deployed into commercial practice within the industry. Goals of the ICCS program are to mitigate climate change through CCUS; create jobs; and position the United States as a world leader in carbon capture technologies.
In the Air Products project, CO2 that would ordinarily be released to the atmosphere is separated from the gas stream of one of the company’s steam methane reformers using a gas-separation technology called "vacuum swing adsorption." After compression and drying, the CO2 purity is greater than 97 percent, concentrated from an initial 10–20 percent. The CO2 is then transported through Denbury Green Pipeline – Texas, LLC’s pipeline for injection into the Denbury Onshore–operated West Hastings Unit, an EOR project in Texas.
When an oil well begins "playing out," not enough oil is pumped to make it worthwhile to continue using the well, and the well is closed or "shut in," even though much of the original oil in the field remains in the formation. Several methods of enhanced oil recovery have been developed to recover this remaining oil, including pumping CO2 down to the oil reservoir. In the Port Arthur project, a monitoring, verification, and accounting program will ensure that the injected CO2 remains underground, safely and permanently trapped in the same geologic formation that confined the oil brought to the surface in the demonstration.
In 2009, during the first phase of DOE’s ICCS program, 12 projects were chosen to receive ARRA funding to expedite or carry out large-scale CCUS from industrial sources. After 7 months, a competitive evaluation was undertaken, and in 2010, Air Products was selected as one of three companies to enter Phase 2 and continue receiving funding for a commercial demonstration project.
Specific advantages of the Air Products demonstration project include:
- Capturing approximately 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere; and
- Recovering 1.6-3.1 million additional barrels of domestic oil annually.
When other companies join with Air Products and begin CO2 capture and utilization, these numbers will increase. Air Products plans to begin CO2 capture at a second steam methane reformer within its Port Arthur facility in the next several months.