Recovery Act: “Carbonsheds” as a Framework for Optimizing US CCS Pipeline Transport on a Regional to National Scale Email Page
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Duke University

Award Number:  FE0001943
Project Duration:  12/01/2009 – 11/30/2012
Total Award Value:  $298,506.00
DOE Share:  $298,506.00
Performer Share:  $0.00
Technology Area: 
Key Technology: 

Project Description

NETL partnered with Duke University (Duke) to use "carbonsheds," a concept developed by Duke, as a framework for optimizing CO2 transport on an integrated technical, economic, societal, and environmental basis. Duke defined the carbonsheds concept as a region in which the estimated cost of transporting CO2 from any CO2 source location in the region is more cost effective than piping the CO2 to a storage site outside the region. Duke mapped out carbonsheds on a regional-to-national scale using Geospatial Information System (GIS) software (Figure 1). The principal inputs to GIS included the possible locations of storage sites to be considered, as well as a cost map for pipeline construction, operation, and maintenance that was developed from digital maps of U.S. land cover types, surface slopes, major infrastructure, and demographics. The end result subdivided the country into regions of economically efficient CO2 transport from a range of possible CO2 source locations to a major sink.

The scope of this project included estimations of optimal CO2 pipeline transport pathways from possible CO2 capture sites to possible storage options. Computational modeling was coupled with GIS to characterize and optimize the transport system under current and possible future technological, economic, social, and environmental constraints. A key source of information and data for the effort was the National Carbon Sequestration Database and Information System (NATCARB). Duke used GIS to integrate the NATCARB data with other available information to build geographically based economic and environmental models of CO2 transport on a regional-to-national scale. These models were used to explore system design options and their dynamics under possible national economic/policy scenarios.

Project Benefits

The overall goal of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carbon Storage Program is to develop and advance technologies that will significantly improve the effectiveness of geologic carbon storage, reduce the cost of implementation, and prepare for widespread commercial deployment between 2020 and 2030. Research conducted to develop these technologies will ensure safe and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without adversely affecting energy use or hindering economic growth.

Geologic carbon storage involves the injection of CO2 into underground formations that have the ability to securely contain the CO2 permanently. Technologies being developed for geologic carbon storage are focused on five storage types: oil and gas reservoirs, saline formations, unmineable coal seams, basalts, and organic-rich shales. Technologies being developed will work towards meeting carbon storage programmatic goals of (1) estimating CO2 storage capacity +/- 30 percent in geologic formations; (2) ensuring 99 percent storage permanence; (3) improving efficiency of storage operations; and (4) developing Best Practices Manuals (BPM). Developing and deploying these technologies on a large scale will require a significantly expanded workforce trained in various carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCS) technical and non-technical disciplines that are currently under-represented in the United States. Education and training activities are needed to develop a future generation of geologists, scientists, and engineers who possess the skills required for implementing and deploying CCS technologies.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), through funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, manages 43 projects that received more than $12.7 million in funding that focus on conducting geologic storage training and support fundamental research projects for graduate and undergraduate  students throughout the United States. The training and projects can be categorized under one or more of the DOE Carbon Storage Program’s five Technology Areas: (1) Geologic Storage and Simulation and Risk Assessment (GSRA), (2) Monitoring, Verification, Accounting (MVA) and Assessment, (3) CO2 Use and Re-Use, (4) Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSP), and (5) Focus Area for Sequestration Science. This training effort is conducting research and training that can be used to help determine storage costs and locations.

This research project developed a modeling framework for optimizing CO2 transport and storage on an integrated technical, economic, societal and environmental basis. This work supports NETL’s Carbon Storage Program goals of supporting BPMs for site selection, characterization and site operations. Results from the study illustrate the infrastructure demands needed for safe and cost-effective CCS in the future, helping to ensure storage efficiency. Additionally, the students involved in the project are graduating with a whole-systems, multidisciplinary understanding of CCS, helping to cultivate a workforce trained in the skills and competencies required for the successful implementation of CCS.

The goal of the project was to broaden and improve the approach for defining carbonsheds and for understanding how these regions might evolve with time under different carbon mitigation scenarios. Project objectives included:

  • Carbonshed analysis integrated with data from NATCARB in the following storage types: carbonate saline reservoirs, oil and gas reservoirs, and unmineable coal seams.

  • Examining the potential offshore extension of U.S. carbonsheds where sub-seafloor CO2 storage may be viable.

  • Exploring the impacts of different economic/policy scenarios on the future demand for CO2 transport within different carbonsheds using socio-economic modeling.

The results of this project will help to improve overall storage operations by determining the most appropriate potential storage sites for regional stationary carbon sources.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Technology Manager 
Principal Investigator 


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