Published: 5 December 2013
The CLIMIT budget will increase by NOK 30 million to NOK 200 million next year.
There is no major full-scale CCS facility in Europe, but the researchers and industry are working diligently to find good solutions that can substantially reduce costs and that do not have negative environmental consequences. The Norwegian CLIMIT programme currently supports more than one hundred projects.
"We do not hide the fact that there are some challenges. It has become more challenging to get Norwegian industry to make the effort to develop CCS. Instead we are often seeing Norwegian research communities joining forces with international companies. The positive aspect is that we have built up internationally recognised expertise in Norway," says Gassnova's director of technology and head of CLIMIT's secretariat Hans Jörg Fell.
But there are several examples of good projects in CLIMIT where the industry is taking an active leadership role, such as Norcem Brevik and Aker Clean Carbon.
Capture technologies where industry plays a part
Norcem in Brevik is leading the European cement industry to find the best solution for reducing CO2 emissions. In 2014, Norcem will test four different technologies on the exhaust gas from the cement production in Brevik.
Aker Clean Carbon is continuing full speed ahead with Phase 3 in the SOLVit project after the successful result in Phase 2, completed last winter. In Phase 3, the goal is 50 per cent reduction of energy consumption. ACC is working with several research communities and industrial companies, and educating doctoral candidates and assistant professors is a part of the programme. They focus on fundamental understanding and development of third generation adsorbents.
Alstom's FIRC (Fully integrated regenerative carbonate cycle) which started this year has a major potential for considerably lower energy demand during the capture process. A capture plant with amine typically uses 15-17 per cent of the energy from a gas power plant. FIRC has a potential to shrink this down to a four per cent loss.
"This could be a game changer if they succeed," says senior adviser Svein Gunnar Bekken in Gassnova.
In June, CLIMIT organised a workshop on carbonate looping in Porsgrunn with participants from Norwegian and European R&D institutions, universities, technology suppliers, oil companies and power companies. Presentations were held by representatives from Gassnova, EnBW, the University of Stuttgart, ALSTOM, IFE and SINTEF.
NTNU, represented by professor May-Britt Hägg, has long researched how to use membranes to separate CO2 from flue gas without using chemicals and complicated processing facilities. The technology is now one step closer to commercialisation. The researchers have recruited several industrial companies. They will now develop "semi-commercial" membrane modules built up of hollow fibres together with Air Products in the US.
In a workshop in November, where Borregaard and Norske Skog were among the participants, CLIMIT looked at how biofuel can be used in CCS to achieve carbon-negative facilities. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also mentioned carbon-negative technologies as a contribution in order to achieve the CO2 emission cuts.
Statoil's 3C (Compact CO2 Capture) is an innovative capture technology that has yielded promising results. The project has succeeded in creating a more compact solution for parts of the process, making it easier to utilise in areas with little space. A smaller size means lower investments and reduced operating costs. It could respond more quickly to changes in the process compared with other capture plants. There is considerable excitement about what Statoil will do with this technology after the company signalled a change in its CCS strategy.
Four new innovative technologies
At the research stage, CLIMIT supports a number of innovative projects from new membranes and solid absorbents to molten salt reactors and enzymes, which could become ground-breaking solutions in the future.
In the SALEM project, researchers are developing new self-repairing hydrogen-conducting and oxygen-conducting membranes, which will contribute to radically cheaper membranes and membranes with longer lifetimes.
In the Novel Membrane project, researchers are developing CO2-selective polymer membranes with an excellent separation ability which can also be used at increased pressures and temperatures. This will result in compact and less energy-intensive concepts.
In a University of Oslo project, researchers are working to stabilise active areas with enzyme properties for more efficient adsorption of CO2 in solid porous materials.
A project at UMB is looking at use of a molten salt reactor for a CO2 capture process.
Four exciting storage projects
The two FMEs (research centres for environment-friendly research) SUCCESS and BIGCCS delivered a major study on central storage sites for CO2 in the North Sea this year. They conclude that full-scale storage in the North Sea is technically feasible from 2018. Within research in CO2 storage, the researchers have closed knowledge gaps and increased expertise on how to inject CO2, how it will react far down in the subsurface, and how to monitor the storage sites.
"So there are no insurmountable technical barriers for storing CO2, but it stops up because there is no market. As soon as the price of CO2 emissions is high enough, the industry will start thinking more about capturing and storing CO2," says special adviser Aage Stangeland in the Research Council of Norway. He coordinates CLIMIT R&D.
There is a newfound interest in EOR. Aker Solutions started a project to examine the combination of storage of CO2 and EOR, where technical solutions, not framework conditions, are the focus.
CLIMIT has taken the initiative to start a cooperation with the German institute Geoforschungszentrum Potsdam on the storage projects in Ketzin in Germany. A formal cooperation has now been established in the COMPLETE project which ensures Norwegian players are included as participants in the research.
NGI in cooperation with Norsar completed a project in 2013 where they interpreted micro-seismic data from CO2 injection on the Insalah field in Algeria. The work proved that such data is very useful for understanding how a CO2 reservoir behaves during CO2 injection. The project has furthermore strengthened these environments' expertise within this area internationally.
"These are examples of us looking outward and establishing international cooperation and including Norwegian players in international projects. We want the same type of cooperation with American injection projects," says senior adviser Svein Eggen in Gassnova.
"The two Norwegian storage pilots in Svelvik and Longyearbyen have yielded many interesting results in recent years. CLIMIT hopes they can form the basis for continued activity, in cooperation with international projects if possible. One of the topics in Horizon 2020 is storage pilots, and we think Norway is well-equipped to contribute actively, both through the infrastructure that has been built up, as well as the expertise communities that have developed," says Eggen.
Transport on the agenda
The CO2 transport technology is more mature than capture and storage, and the researchers and industry have a solid expertise basis within transport.
In the CO2 Dynamics projects, researchers from SINTEF are developing methods and knowledge for improving the design and operation of CO2 transport systems. Knowledge from this project can be used to achieve safe transport and injection of CO2.
The CO2MixProp project is conducting experiments to determine the exact thermodynamic properties of CO2 mixtures – which is necessary to achieve safe models.
The researchers in SPT Group Norway and the Institute for Energy Technology have worked to adapt the OLGA simulation tool to CO2 using a test rig at Kjeller.
Statoil has carried out a project examining the properties of CO2 during transport in pipelines.
The industry is also taking over within transport:
The CO2Pipetrans project, which researches safe, reliable and cost-efficient transport of CO2 by pipeline, was supported by CLIMIT in Phase 1, while Phase 2, under the direction of DNV, is fully financed by the industry.
Looking beyond borders
CLIMIT has placed greater emphasis on international cooperation in the strategy plan. This is already reflected in many projects, but will be strengthened further when the EU's framework programme Horizon 2020 starts in 2014. Here the players in the CLIMIT programme will be involved in many of the most important forums determining the research agenda. The Research Council of Norway's participation scheme supports Norwegian players in joining important forums at high levels in the EU, e.g. in EERA (European Energy Research Alliance) and the technology platform ZEP (Zero Emission Platform).
Key Norwegian research communities such as SINTEF, IFE and Tel-Tek, as well as the universities of Oslo, Trondheim and Bergen have developed strong CCS expertise, with support from CLIMIT. At the same time, the two FMEs SUCCESS and BIGCCS have gathered the best communities, making CCS research even more visible internationally.
"There has been good cooperation between CLIMIT and the two FMEs. Their eight-year financing has allowed them to think long-term. It has created a momentum for exciting research," says Stangeland. Both FMEs have received financing for the final three years out of eight after the halfway evaluation.
The Technology Centre at Mongstad (TCM) is also attractive to international research institutions and companies.
"The road ahead in CLIMIT is that we are playing the international game. Both through participating in Horizon 2020 and by looking for international players that could help commercialise Norwegian technology," says Fell.
Norway has also been appointed the headquarter of the new European cooperation on CCS research facilities – ECCSEL. It started with support from CLIMIT and has now been strengthened with support from the EU and from the Research Council of Norway to build up the organisation and upgrade research infrastructure. This cooperation could be very significant for the CLIMIT projects.
Good response for idea development funds
This year's innovation in CLIMIT is the establishment of idea development funds, which will help the research communities with the process preceding normal applications to CLIMIT. Good project ideas could receive up to NOK 200 000. Four applications have been received so far, and the first has already been awarded. CLIMIT expects to use the budgeted framework of NOK 1 million before the turn of the year. All indications are that the programme will continue in 2014.
United research and industry
The CLIMIT days on 25-26 February experienced record-breaking participation levels with more than 200 delegates. Researchers, industry representatives and authorities met to share knowledge and experience with each other. For the very first time, the conference had an international flair with presenters and participants from the US, UK, Sweden and Germany.
Gathered the CO2 researchers of tomorrow
A substantial number of the CLIMIT projects have doctoral fellows and post-doctoral research fellows that conduct good research, not least within the two FMEs. About 50 of these young scientists participated in CLIMIT's PhD seminar in Trondheim in October. A new generation of researchers is ready to break boundaries in CCS.