Imperial researchers have received almost £1m for their new modelling approach towards storing CO2 underground to help combat the climate crisis.
The backing comes from the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) £20 million CCUS Innovation 2.0 programme, which is aimed at accelerating the deployment of next-generation carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology in the UK so that it can deploy at scale by 2030.
Simulating how injected CO2 plumes behave in reservoirs is central to successfully engineering and managing CO2 storage. Dr Samuel Krevor Department of Earth Science and Engineering
The researchers’ approach, known as StrataTrapper, was developed by Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge in collaboration with industry partners OpenGoSim, BP, Drax Power, and Storegga.
Based on fluid dynamics research, StrataTrapper is software designed to help industry reduce the risks and costs associated with CO2 storage. CO2 storage is a vital component of CCUS – a technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere and could help industry transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. CCUS can be costly and includes risks like unexpected rates of plume migration, and the CO2 approaching potential leakage pathways.
When carbon is sequestered underground, it is injected into reservoirs and its behaviour can be studied – a field of research known as geological fluid dynamics. Imperial’s Dr Samuel Krevor and Professor Ann Muggeridge, together with Cambridge academics, have translated their research on the fluid dynamics of carbon in these reservoirs into innovative software tools that characterise and model how carbon behaves underground. These software tools can be used by industry to reduce the risks, like carbon leakage, and costs associated with CO2 storage.
Principal Investigator on the project Dr Krevor said: “Simulating how injected CO2 plumes behave in reservoirs is central to successfully engineering and managing CO2 storage. The direction and speed of carbon flow determine how efficient the storage is and can identify weaknesses that might cause leaks.
"We will incorporate our software tools into a commercial and opensource software platform that can be used by industry, while staying accessible to the academic community.”
This collaboration between industry and academia will enable the rapid deployment of our advanced modelling tools to storage sites in the UK and internationally Professor Jerome Nuefeld University of Cambridge
Thanks to the funding, StrataTrapper will be commercialised through incorporation into the CO2 reservoir simulation platform OpenGoSim and will also be made opensource. The researchers will demonstrate the applicability of these tools to the Endurance CO2 storage site in the southern North Sea, and the East Mey Site in the central and northern North Sea.
Co-investigator Professor Jerome Neufeld from the University of Cambridge said: “This collaboration between industry and academia will enable the rapid deployment of our advanced modelling tools to storage sites in the UK and internationally, and lead to better understanding of the subsurface flow of CO2."
The result of the work will be the validation and commercialisation of the StrataTrapper reservoir simulation tools for the rapid screening, risking, project design, and management of CO2 storage.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “As we accelerate the UK’s energy independence by boosting clean, home-grown, affordable energy, it’s crucial that our industries reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
“This investment will help them to not only cut emissions, but also save money on energy bills, on top of supporting jobs by encouraging green innovation across in the UK.
Image: Samuel Krevor
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
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