UK group planning CO2 sequestration trials in Europe, US shale

By Very Large Scale Decarbonization Partners | January 17, 2019

U.K. Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry has announced the U.K.'s goal to lead an international challenge to capture and sequester CO2.

Consistent with this objective and highlighting the important role of innovation in supporting cost reduction, Very Large Scale Decarbonization Partners (VLS Decarb) announced its intention to carry out field trials of its highly innovative CO2sequestration system in several U.K. and EU locations.

Additionally, VLS Decarb is planning similar field trials in several U.S. shale basins where, pending results, these trial sites will be developed into fully functioning carbon dioxide storage facilities capable of permanently storing a significant percentage of annual U.S. CO2 emissions.  VLS Decarb will target U.S. shale basins, including the Marcellus (in Pennsylvania/West Virginia), Haynesville (Arkansas, Louisiana, East Texas), and Eagle Ford (Texas).

VLS Decarb is in the process of securing Precedent Agreements for long term carbon storage contracts from industrial, institutional and governmental clients seeking to mitigate CO2 emissions associated with their operations, and in some instances availing themselves of available U.S. carbon tax credits.

The company's patented and patent pending suite of technologies hold the potential to permanently sequester atmospheric CO2 at the levels stipulated by the Paris Climate Change Accord of December 2015.  Specifically, it has the technology to remove volumes of CO2 sufficient to arrest the progression of climate change and potentially reverse harmful effects being experienced from unmitigated CO2 emissions of human origins.

The VLS Decarb Research and Development Consortium 

During the past five years, the technology has been advanced by an extensive R&D collaboration involving VLS Decarb's academic and industry partners, the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University in the United Kingdom, and an international array of academic and governmental institutions and funding agencies. This research and development partnership, funded in part by Innovate UK, has led to the development of novel materials that are key to enabling the Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) concept.

The enabling research for this project has been supported by Innovate UK, the Welsh Government's Sêr Cymru Chair Programme, and the FLEXIS project, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government.

Field Trials 

In the field thus far, specifically focused and scoped tests have been undertaken which have demonstrated the viability of various key components of the system. The complete process will be tested in field trials going forward and the results are expected to demonstrate the widespread applicability of the technology and its commercial viability and self-sustaining features, such as supporting intermittent supplies of electric power generation (wind, wave and sun) while also providing the electric power required to drive the sequestration process itself.

The CO2 storage and power generation potentials are: 

The technologies developed by VLS Decarb have the potential to permanently sequester approximately 35 years of global electric power CO2 emissions associated with the energy consumed in simultaneously sequestering all global CO2 emissions from all sources during the same time.

Here is how it works

Research data demonstrates that the best use of unconventional (shale) reservoirs is to store CO2, the noxious byproduct of burning natural gas and other fossil fuels. Shale formations, which are ubiquitous in the Earth's crust, can potentially be harnessed to permanently store injected CO2 for time intervals measured in geologic terms, literally hundreds of millions of years. The following image illustrates the process, which occurs in eight basic steps:

Steps 1, 2, 3

Temporarily accessing planetary shale source rocks with a completely non-toxic production system and removing the natural gas (methane) within them.

Steps 4, 5 

Massive surplus electric power production (net of the carbon capture and sequestration operations) while simultaneously achieving an extraordinary negative carbon footprint by capturing CO2 from the generation process and other processes, a byproduct of which is the production of large volumes of fresh water. 

Step 6, 7,8

Refilling the emptied reservoir spaces with many times more volumes of atmospheric carbon dioxide than generated from the extracted methane, and then terminating the access pathways from these containers via natural bio-degradable means resulting in permanent large-scale CO2 sequestration throughout geologic time which is not dependent upon vertical well bore durability.

VLS Decarb Founder John Francis Thrash, said, "Carbon sequestration in source rock deposits is a universally available solution for permanently removing carbon from the environment that has been sitting plainly before our eyes and yet un-noticed until now. Ironically, the methane extraction allows for disposal of the necessary volume of CO2 required to reverse climate change. All of this is accomplished in one sustainable, commercially viable operation."

ESRI Founder and Director Andrew R Barron, said, "Traditional sequestration is fraught with issues, in particular the economic incentive for industry to decarbonize itself. Our approach offers a significant opportunity for Industry and Governments to ensure a low carbon future while sustaining employment and the economy."

About VLS Decarb, Energy Safety Research Institute and Glass Technology Services, Ltd

Very Large Scale Decarbonization Partners (VLS Decarb) has been formed to utilize the company's proprietary suite of major market patented and globally patent pending technologies to further develop, and deploy at scale, clean commercial energy strategies which has the potential to result in profoundly reduced planetary atmospheric CO2 through emissions elimination and permanent sequestration. 

The Energy Safety Research Institute is positioned to discover and implement new technology for a sustainable, affordable, and secure energy future and is housed on Swansea University's new world class Bay Campus. ESRI provides an exceptional environment for delivering cutting edge research across energy and energy safety-related disciplines with a focus on renewable energy, hydrogen, carbon capture and utilization, as well as new oil and gas technologies.

Glass Technology Services is a globally recognized independent expert in glass research and development, testing and consultancy. Its team works with partners and customers at every stage of the development cycle and supply chain to drive innovation, growth and sustainability in glass. Their R&D projects range from development of new glass materials and manufacturing processes to product commercialization. Recent work has spanned the medical, defense, energy, oil and gas, laser, optics/photonics and waste processing sectors.