A breakthrough approach is bringing carbon capture utilization and storage to another level. Researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada are making new discoveries proving the viability of using CO2 for the extraction of heat and geothermal energy deep below the ground.
They conducted a successful feasibility study on the CO2 utilization process. The discovery is a huge milestone for the carbon capture industry as it brings the technology a step closer to pilot testing and ultimately to becoming part of the low-carbon economy.
“The science of carbon capture has traditionally focused on CO2 storage and less on CO2 utilization such as extracting the geothermal energy. But doing both at the same time is novel for today’s technology,” said Alireza Rangriz Shokri, a research associate who conducted the study.
Feasibility Study Of The CO2 Utilization Process
The process of extracting geothermal energy with CO2 is known as CO2 plume geothermal or CPG technology. The feasibility study was conducted at Aquistore in Saskatchewan – the world’s most comprehensive field lab for researching stored CO2.
The study includes using numerical tools, lab, and field data for the examination of the injection history of CO2 storage operation at Aquistore. The researchers also validated their simulations with field measurements like downhole injection pressure and temperature.
Then, a model for the assessment of the CO2 circulation process was used to identify key performance variables. They include produced volumes of CO2 and brine which is the salty water that could dissolve the gas.
The study was able to show that at the end of its life cycle, CPG permanently stores 100% of the injected CO2 in the geological reservoir without the risk of escaping into the air.
The next phase is going through an assessment that will determine suitability for pilot testing. That would be the world’s first CPG pilot test as nobody has built such an experiment to show the extraction of geothermal energy via CO2. The project is an exciting event for the carbon capture industry, bringing innovation and a potential new pathway towards the energy transition.
In addition to facilitating the net zero economy, the process also offers the opportunity for generating a new revenue stream. According to Shokri, one of the main obstacles to expanding CO2 storage is the economic aspect. As CO2 is just being disposed of underground, there is no end product and revenue stream.
Extracting geothermal power from the CO2 storage process solves such problems. Powering pumps used to inject CO2 underground or CO2 storage facilities can eventually have the capacity to sell electricity to industrial or residential markets.
The CO2 utilization research could be a driver for further R&D efforts from the science community and eventually a pilot test of the groundbreaking carbon capture technology. It is helping the decarbonization industry on several levels so it offers the potential to ultimately become part of the net zero economy.