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2014

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    Our proposed research is based on cores collected during the recent, and very successful, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 340. The aims of this expedition were to investigate the volcanism and landslide history of the Lesser Antilles volcanic arc, by collecting a number of cores offshore Montserrat and Martinique. As a shipboard planktic foraminifera (single celled calcareous plankton) biostratigrapher (dating sediment cores using the appearances and disappearances of fossil plankton), Deborah Wall-Palmer (proposed PDRA) has access to these cores during the one year moratorium period. Until IODP Exp. 340, the longest continuous record (~250,000 years) of volcanic activity on Montserrat was a 5.75 m core collected to the south-west of the island in 2002, CAR-MON 2. This core revealed a more extensive and complete record of volcanic activity than that available in terrestrial cores. The longest continuous sediment record collected during Exp. 340 extends this record considerably. At 139.4 m in length, Hole U1396C records events back to 4.5 million years ago. The majority of this Hole will undergo stratigraphic analysis at low resolution, which will be carried out by other Exp. 340 scientists (Andrew Fraass, Mohammed Aljahdali). The upper 7 m section of this Hole is estimated to span 300,000 years and is comparable to the time period recovered in sediments for Holes U1394A/B (0 to 125 cm) and U1395B (0 to 30 cm). Holes U1394A/B and U1395B were collected close to Montserrat, in the main path of eruptive material from the Soufriere Hills volcano and contain a high resolution, but interrupted record of volcanic eruptions and landslides. Our proposed research is to provide a high resolution (every 2000 yrs) age framework across the upper ~300,000 year sections of these three cores. This will be achieved by collecting specimens of the planktic foraminifera Globigerinoides ruber and analysing the stable oxygen isotope ratios contained within their calcium carbonate tests (shells). Oxygen isotope ratios provide information about the global ice volume and global climate, and the standard record can be identified world-wide. Correlation to this record can therefore be used to provide an age framework for sediments, which is more detailed than using the biostratigraphic range of species alone. Producing this age framework is essential for achieving the overall aims of Exp. 340 as it will be used, in collaboration with several other Exp. 340 scientists, to reconstruct the volcanic and landslide history of Montserrat. In addition to this, to ensure the conservative use of samples, some further work will be carried out on samples requested from the upper 7 m of Hole U1396C. This will assist in constructing the low resolution stable isotope and biostratigraphic framework for the remainder of this Hole. The majority of this work is being carried out by Andrew Fraass (University of Massachusetts) and Mohammed Aljahdali (Florida State University). We will analyse the upper 7 m of Hole U1396C, at low resolution, for stable oxygen isotopes of the benthic foraminifera Cibicidoides spp. and for planktic foraminifera datum species.

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    This project will develop and experimentally validate a heterogeneous flow model for predicting the transient depressurisation and outflow following the puncture of dense phase CO2 pipelines containing typical impurities. Such data is expected to serve as the source term for the quantitative consequence failure assessment of CO2 pipelines including near field and far field dispersion, fracture propagation and blowdown. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C1-07. UKCCSRC - UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre.

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    The world's population is predicted to grow from the current 7 billions to a plateau of approximately 9.2 billions to be reached within the next 60 years, representing roughly a 30 % increase in a not so distant future. The need for more energy efficient methods of producing synthetic fertilisers to meet the resulting increases in food demand and in crude (and bio) oils refining operations -on crudes of ever poorer quality- motivates the scientific community to reconsider the limitations of the mature technologies of synthetic fertilisers production and hydro-refining processes (HDS, HDN, HDM, HDO, hydrocracking) which both rely on the supply of hydrogen. Synthetic fertilisers necessitate hydrogen and nitrogen as feedstocks to make ammonia, which represents the building block for other fertilisers such as urea or ammonium nitrate. The current cheapest and most common means of producing hydrogen is natural gas steam reforming. With an abundance of natural gas reserves becoming exploitable worldwide in recent years via the hydraulic fracturing of shale gas, and given the ever more severe regulations on atmospheric pollution caused by flaring of associated gas from refineries and oil extraction operations, the production of hydrogen is very likely to remain dominated in the years to come by the process of steam reforming using natural gas as its feedstock (aka 'steam methane reforming' or 'SMR'). Conventional SMR technology usually features many unit operations (desulphurisation, pre-reforming, primary reforming, furnace, high and low temperature water gas shift (HT-WGS, LT-WGS), and final separation, with as many heat integration steps in between the units in order to reach an energy efficiency of roughly 80%. This efficiency is only attainable thanks to economies of scale, and SMR plants are consequently enormous. To avoid storage and transport costs of H2, the ammonia/ammonium nitrate/urea plants, or refinery operations are usually conducted near the site of SMR, therefore the production of the final products of fertilisers or clean fuels is very centralised, and thus vulnerable, as well as incurring large distribution costs. With sources of natural gas becoming more remote, widely distributed, shorter lived and quickly relocated, the process of converting natural gas to the final products fertiliser/clean fuel should become more mobile, down-scaleable, as fracking gas wells see their production decay with time and move to different sites. This proposal seeks to reduce significantly the energy and materials demand for the conversion of natural gas feedstocks into ready separated streams of the H2, N2 and CO2 products of steam reforming (the building blocks of urea production) by coupling the in-situ high temperature CO2 capture during the reforming reactions on a solid sorbent (a process called 'sorption enhancement') with the process of chemical looping steam reforming. A process is proposed with only two reactors, a reformer and a pressure/temperature swing separator, appropriate for the new, mobile, small scale industrial utilisation of natural gas, through realising the multiple synergies that are unique to the coupled process, and through the avoidance of expensive materials and awkward reformer geometries. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-181.

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    This Proposal focuses on the determination of the dew point of water (H2O), or “water solubility”, in impure CO2 mixtures (e.g. containing nitrogen, N2, oxygen, O2, hydrogen, H2, or mixtures of N2 + H2). The proposed work is a direct result of new findings in our project under Call 1, where we have obtained highly reproducible data for water solubility in CO2 + N2 using infrared spectroscopy and are well on the way to implementing an independent route using the so-called “Karl-Fischer” titration technique to give independent validation of our results. We have shown that the solubility of H2O is significantly reduced by the presence of even low concentrations of N2, a finding which has direct implications on anthropogenic CO2 transportation pipeline specifications and operation (e.g. internal corrosion). Such data have been identified by the Advanced Power Generation Technology Forum (APGTF) and the priorities specified in the UKCCRC Research And Pathways to Impact Delivery (RAPID) Handbook as being crucial for developing safe CO2 transportation in both the gaseous and dense phase. This Project has been designed to fill gaps in the available data, which are crucial for the safe implementation of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) because liquid water is highly acidic in the presence of excess CO2; this acidity can be increased by trace amounts of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S), and this acidity will greatly accelerate corrosion in transportation pipelines and can cause further problems in sub-surface storage. Keeping water and CO2 in a single phase during transportation will largely avoid these problems. In Call 1, we set out to design and develop two complementary experimental approaches using either Infrared spectroscopy or Karl-Fischer titration. The key is now to understand the major implications for the complex range of CCS mixtures. A further complication is that the phase behaviour is highly dependent on both composition and temperature, therefore in order to fully understand the behaviour of water in the context of CCS requires further measurements. For this project we are targeting the needs outlined by National Grid in their letter for pre-combustion CCS where H2 is a likely contaminant. We have obtained preliminary data for H2 which shows that the effects may be greater than for N2, but this needs full validation. Furthermore, we propose to test the widespread assumption that the behaviour of O2 impurities will mirror that of N2. O2 is important in CCS coupled to the oxyfuel technology. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-185.

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    The aim of this project is to develop validated and computationally efficient shelter and escape models describing the consequences of a carbon dioxide (CO2) release from Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) transport infrastructure to the surrounding population. The models will allow pipeline operators, regulators and standard setters to make informed and appropriate decisions regarding pipeline safety and emergency response. The primary objectives planned to achieve this aim are: 1.To produce an indoor shelter model, based on ventilation and air change theory, which will account for both wind and buoyancy driven CO2 ventilation into a building. The model will be capable of incorporating varying cloud heights, internal building divisions, internal and external temperature differences and impurities. 2.To create an external escape model that will determine the dosage received by an individual exposed to a cloud of CO2 outdoors. The model will be capable of incorporating multi-decision making by the individual in terms of the direction and speed of running, wind direction, the time taken to find shelter and the time required to make a decision, on becoming aware of the release. 3.To build a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model describing the effects of ingress of a CO2 cloud into a multicompartment building. 4.To validate the indoor shelter model and the CFD model against experimental test data for a CO2 release into a single compartment building. 5.To validate the indoor shelter model against further CO2 ingress scenarios modelled with CFD. 6.To conduct a sensitivity study using the shelter and escape models to calculate the dosage that an individual will be expected to receive under different conditions building height, window area, wind direction, temperature gradient, wind speed, atmospheric conditions, building size, running speed, direction of travel and reaction time. 7.To illustrate how the output from the models, in terms of dosage, can be used as input to Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) studies to determine safe distances between CO2 pipelines and population centres. 8.To demonstrate how the output from the models, in terms of dosage, can be used as input to the development of emergency response plans regarding the protection afforded by shelter and the likely concentrations remaining in a shelter after release. 9.To disseminate the findings of the research to relevant stakeholders through publication of academic journal papers as well as presentations at conferences, UKCCSRC meetings and relevant specialist workshops. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-179.

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    The aim of this proposal is to develop and validate a multi-phase flow model for simulating the highly transient flow phenomena taking place in the well-bore during start-up injection of CO2 mixtures into depleted gas fields. The objectives are to: 1.demonstrate the usefulness of the model developed based on its application to a real system as a test case; 2.use the findings in (1) to propose optimum injection strategies and develop Best Practice Guidelines for minimising the risks associated with the start-up injection of CO2 into depleted gas reservoirs. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-183.

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    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a promising means of directly lowering CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. However, concerns about the possibility of CO2 leakage are contributing to slow the widespread adoption of the technology. Research to date has failed to identify a cheap and effective means of measuring how CO2 injected underground is being stored. CO2 can be stored in four different ways: 1.Physically - where gaseous or liquid CO2 is trapped beneath an impermeable sealing cap rock. 2.Residually - where CO2 is trapped within individual and dead end spaces between rock grains (pores). 3.Solubility - where CO2 is dissolved into the formation water, which fills the pores between rock grains. 4.Mineralisation - where CO2 reacts with the host rock forming new carbonate minerals within the pores. Importantly, physically trapped CO2 is mobile and able to leak should a break form in the overlying sealing rocks. CO2 stored by the other three means is not mobile or buoyant, and hence will not migrate out of the CO2 storage site should the seal fail. It is therefore critical for reassurance to the public and regulators of CO2 storage that reliable ways to measure how much of the CO2 injected into the subsurface for storage is locked away in these secure means. Few research studies to date have quantified exactly how much CO2 is stored by residual and solubility trapping across an entire storage site. Estimations have been made from laboratory studies on rock core samples, but these only represent rocks from a small part of the CO2 storage site. Extending these results to infer how CO2 will be stored in the entire storage site is difficult as the rock cores do not represent the variation seen across the storage site. It is possible to use seismic waves to image the CO2 injected. This has proved to be a reliable means of imaging large amounts of CO2 but is unable to image thin layers of CO2 or % dissolved CO2 which makes it very difficult to quantify exactly how CO2 is being stored. Hence, there is a need to develop a reliable test which can be performed at a single CO2 injection well during assessment of a potential site for CO2 storage. This would allow the amount of CO2 which will be residually trapped in the storageformation to be determined. Such a test will lower the risk of mis-estimating the storage capacity of a site and provide a commercial operator with greater reassurance of the predictability of their proposed storage site. We will work with one of the world's leading research organisations focused on CCS, CO2CRC. They own and operate a dedicated research facility into CO2 storage, at Otway CO2 in Australia. This is uniquely suitable because in mid-2011 Otway undertook a successful experimental programme focused on determining residual trapping. Building on these experiments and in direct collaboration with CO2CRC we will use water geochemistry to establish the fate of CO2 injected into the Otway site by quantifying both the level of CO2 residually and solubility trapped and at what distance into the reservoir. This will be achieved using noble gas tracer injection and recovery, to determine residual trapping levels, and by independent oxygen stable isotope measurements to quantify the amount of CO2 dissolution. These tests will calibrate downhole geophysical techniques which CO2CRC will use. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-204.

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    This project aims to build on and strengthen joint industry research programmes between Edinburgh, Doosan Power Systems in the UK and Sulzer ChemTech, a world leading manufacturer of separation processes equipment, with the objectives to move beyond current concepts for designing CO2 absorption columns for base-load operation, and towards new columns capable of meeting the requirements for flexible and highly dynamic operation of CCS power plants. It is an important research for the UK to ensure that conventional power plants fitted with CCS can become a source of dispatchable and low carbon energy to complement non-dispatchable renewable technologies such as wind or solar power. We propose to demonstrate the capabilities of novel ways to use solvent property instrumentation to significantly enhance the dynamic flexibility of the amine pilot plant at the UK CCS Research Centre Pilot Advanced Capture Testing facilities and to develop an underpinning understanding of the capabilities of state-of-the-art hardware, such as structured packing,liquid distributors, used in and around packed columns. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-214.

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    This project contributes significantly to the de-risking of a technology which has a significantly lower efficiency penalty than post-combustion capture using Monoethanolamine (MEA) scrubbing. The work here specifically targets two industrial sectors where MEA scrubbing is at a significant disadvantage (only ~ 30 % of the low-grade heat required for MEA scrubbing is present in a cement plant, for example [1]), and in both cases the spent CaO is valuable as an input to the process itself (either as the main feedstock for cement clinker production, or as a flux in iron production). The project builds on several current projects at both Imperial College and Cranfield University and offers excellent value for money because of these synergies. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-209.

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    Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies are critical for the UK to achieve its an ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. The development of an accurate, cost efficient and scalable metering technology that could be deployed in the commercial scale transportation of CO2 by pipeline for CCS purposes is critical for the deployment of CCS. However, current technologies employed in metering CO2 flows by pipeline are unable to provide the required levels of accuracy, particularly in situations where the CO2 stream contains different levels of impurities. Accordingly, in this project we will conduct laboratory trials to assess meters for accurate flow measurements, and ultimately develop technical specifications for accurate flow metering for CCS applications. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-201.