BIGCCS was the first of Norway's eight centres for environment-friendly energy research to start operations when the contract partners had their kickoff event a bit more than a year ago. Within the past year, research at the centre has resulted in a large number of scientific publications and considerable international interest.
– BIGCCS is being noticed. We asked the best international researchers if they would like to sit on our scientific committee. Everyone we asked was positive and responded quickly, says the centre's director Ms. Mona Mølnvik.
The scientific committee held its first meeting during the GHGT10 conference in Amsterdam. Its role is to keep an eye on and provide advice to the research performed at the centre.
Industry partner no. 10
The CCS industry is also interested in participating. BIGCCS had nine industry partners from the start, three of which were from abroad. Recently, French GDF SUEZ joined as the tenth industry partner. Number eleven might be in place before the end of 2010.
– We are in dialog with several other potential partners, including energy companies and suppliers. This clearly shows us that Norway is not the only country to make a commitment to CCS research, says Ms. Mølnvik.
The widespread international interest in CCS is also obvious when BIGCCS announces new PhD, post-doc and research positions. SINTEF, as the centre's host institution, and NTNU, as the university in charge of the PhD programmes, are being flooded with applications from abroad.
– And these are applications from top-notch researchers, Ms. Mølnvik underlines.
At the International CCS Conference in Amsterdam, GHGT10, BIGCCS gave three talks and seven poster presentations. BIGCCS was also a co-organiser of the IEAGHG International CCS Summer School held on Svalbard in August 2010. This fall, BIGCCS will be represented at the Transatlantic Science Week in Washington.
For BIGCCS, getting new partners also implies more funds and a better chance to receive support via CLIMIT's KMB projects. The centre was recently granted funds for the KMB-project 'CO2 mixture properties'.
– The joint effort of our partners gives us increasing momentum, and thereby enables us to accomplish more. We can go into greater detail and cover a broader range of activities, says the centre's director.
BIGCCS has divided its research into five sub-projects (see below) and a number of different tasks. With about 160 people involved from research institutes and companies, the demands on the sub-project managers are considerable. BIGCCS has therefore used a lot of time during its first year to consolidate the management team.
- The management team shall actually manage BIGCCS, and not just be an information channel. We develop a common understanding of what BIGCCS aims to be and make important decisions collectively, says Ms. Mølnvik, who is joined by eight project managers in the management team.
BIGCCS is working hard to understand innovation processes in order to contribute to increased value added in industry.- We aim to help the industry to reap potential benefits inherent in the research results. Businesses are closely monitoring the results and sharing them within their organisations, she says.
All partners have access to all results free of charge. Most research results are also published in the public domain, but with a certain delay. Other benefits enjoyed by BIGCCS partners include being able to influence research issues and the possibility of having a direct dialog with the researchers.
A glimpse of ongoing research activities
Using membranes in the production of hydrogen can significantly reduce energy costs. Researchers are now taking the leap from cm2-sized membranes to modules based on linked cylindrical membranes with a considerably larger surface area.
Amines are the most common solvents used in the absorption of CO2 from flue gases. BIGCCS is studying alternatives that could be better and less costly, including substances that result in solid-phase reaction products. Experiments shall examine the gas/liquid/solid ratio in CO2 capture systems based on mineral trapping under realistic operating conditions.
High pressure oxy-fuel combustion
When burning pure oxygen in an oxy-fuel combustor, the resulting temperatures are so high that they cause material damage to the combustion chamber. Some of the flue gases (CO2) are therefore re-circulated into the combustor. Using new equipment that has been funded by the Research Council's infrastructure programme, BIGCCS aims to optimise combustor design and the mixing ratio of oxygen and recycled flue gas. The infrastructure is also important for studies of hydrogen combustion.
Safe and financially feasible CO2 transport solutions are needed to ensure the profitability of CCS. In this work, groups doing research on gas/liquid flow in pipelines are linked to groups doing pipeline material studies. They are to jointly develop a method for studying running cracks in pipelines to enable the establishment of safe and efficient CO2 transport systems.
CO2 has several unusual properties when dissolved in water under the same pressure and temperature conditions as those found in the planned subsea or underground storage formations. A mixture of CO2 and water is heavier than water and will migrate downwards in the reservoir. However, before this happens, CO2 can accumulate underneath and leak through the cap rock. Models show that CO2 will stabilise in the reservoir after 1000 years.
Sub-projects: CO2 Capture, CO2 Transport, CO2 Storage, CO2 Chain, Academia
Director: Mona Mølnvik, SINTEF Energi
Budget: Approximately NOK 450 million over a period of eight years
Host institution: SINTEF Energi
Research partners: CICERO, Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, GEUS - Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, NGU, NTNU Samfunnsforskning, SINTEF Petroleumsforskning, SINTEF-stiftelsen
Industry partners: Aker Solutions, ConocoPhillips Skandinavia, DNV, GDF SUEZ, Gassco, Hydro Aluminium, Shell Technology Norway, Statkraft Development, Statoil, TOTAL E&P Norge
Research training: 22 PhD students and 8 postdocs under supervision of NTNU