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Catalytic reaction chemistry and engineering will be the basis for many conversion options for a low carbon future. The utilization of feedstocks that are competitively advantaged will drive alternative process technologies as will the optimization of existing technologies to have a lower carbon footprint and to produce a low carbon intensity output.

Life Cycle Analysis of produced hydrocarbons for “lower carbon intensity mapping”

Overview:

The project will be a full business case analysis of various technical approaches to produce lower carbon footprint hydrocarbons. A full cradle to grave assessment of fuels, technologies, processing options, systems and processes that can produce a carbon foot printed outcome of a lower carbon hydrocarbon or energy produced. The full process and fuel analysis must be supported by business scenarios and potential applications – as well as the fully developed competitive alternatives for the hydrocarbon or energy production.

Need and Impact:

There is a need for full transparency in the discussion of new and evolving technologies and how they impact the global CO2 or CH4 emissions with data and quantitative analysis. The outcomes and claims of stakeholders in the market in terms of the full life cycle impact of investments will be consistently compared and the CCME will have the capability and competence to apply rigor and quantitative analysis to claims and projections made. The Bauer School of Business will lead the CCME efforts with support from all departments.

Key outcomes:

To be a recognized voice of the “truth” and to be a non-partisan and fully accredited as well as globally recognized across all energy segments in O&G, petrochemicals and electric power markets.


Conversion of Light Hydrocarbons and CO2

Overview:

The US shale revolution is leading to a surplus of relatively cheap natural gas (NG) as a co-product with the more desirable shale liquids. The co-production of gas can lead to a production bottleneck due to restrictions in flaring and methane emissions. Thus, a cost-effective technology for on-site conversion of the natural gas to value-added products is highly desirable. Methane emissions are a concern because methane is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG). New technology is needed to abate methane while also addressing CO2 emissions, the better known GHG.

Chemical Engineering experts from the molecular scale modeling along with catalyst synthesis to macroscale process modeling and pilot scale reaction engineering are addressing issues of hydrocarbon and CO2 conversions through decomposition of methane, methane conversion to methanol, oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane, partial oxidation of methane and ethane using CO2, oxidative coupling of methane, tri-reforming of methane and the use of nonthermal plasmas for the conversion of methane.

Need and Impact:

The conversion of light hydrocarbons and CO2 to useful commodity chemicals is crucial to address the economics of carbon management and build a business case. The abundance of light hydrocarbons, difficulties in transporting them and the increased prevalence pf affordable renewable power makes it the right time to advance these research topics from fundamental to scaled field tests and deployment.

Key outcomes:

Development and deployment of new technologies and processes for the conversion of methane, ethane, and other light hydrocarbons along with a possible use pathway for CO2.


CO2 As a Global Commodity – Novel Transportation Scheme

Overview:

Carbon removal from the atmosphere is critical for avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Carbon sinks with sequestration capacities at scale with our climate goals exist; however, the challenge lies in connecting sinks with sources via cost-effective transportation and finding profitable pathways for CO2 utilization. The CCME is examining the technology, business case, and changes to regulatory, public and international policy to impact safe, economical and effective linking of sources and utilization locations.

One possible solution lies in dual-use shipping. Dual-use vessels can be deployed to carry CO2 on their return journey following an LNG or LPG or NGL delivery. Our research in this direction is founded on Asian or European markets that have a growing demand for commodity LNG, LPG and NGLs along with enhanced oil recovery (EOR)-ready mature oil and gas fields in the US offshore Gulf of Mexico (GoM). CCME will undertake research to develop technology solutions and match them up with economic analysis and policy developments to effectively engage in business case development.

A separate and important challenge remains the availability of effective and economical pipeline transport of CO2 from high concentration sources to scale utilization sites such as enhanced oil recovery from mature hydrocarbon fields. Advancement of common carriers and de-risking carbon management will require advances in improved monitoring technologies along with economic and regulatory policy changes including blockchain adoption to significantly advance the mid-stream businesses. In the process, source-sink matching is optimized, prohibitive transportation costs are abated, and carbon gains an end-of-use value through secure sequestration.

Need and Impact:

The economics of carbon capture, use and storage can be greatly improved if the transportation costs can be substantially reduced. Moreover, connecting sources of captured CO2 and use locations through economic transportation can address significant supply-chain issues currently slowing down the sequestration of CO2.

Key outcomes:

A consistent and recognized approach to system analysis and business scenario quantification. To be recognized in the market to inform decision-making and to drive new policies and regulations to affect such new, novel and transformative approaches.


Modular and Intensified Carbon Capture

Overview:

Carbon capture technologies that capture CO2 from point sources such as power plants, refineries, and chemical plants or distributed and typically low concentration sources like the atmosphere are being advanced as part of a comprehensive carbon management system. Capture of CO2 generated from point sources is captured via one of three modalities: pre-combustion, post-combustion, and oxy-fuel combustion. These processes have been scaled up to minimize the energy required for releasing the CO2 and for operations including pipeline compression of CO2. Much of the focus has been on the release of CO2 following absorption or adsorption and efficiencies in thermal and pressure-swing methods, including materials for absorption and adsorption, continue to be developed. Such point source capture technologies have demonstrated improvements in energy efficiency through the integration of processes and more recently by application of intensification methods. Opportunities to identify better separation and release technologies along with intensification focused on non-thermal power plants are a key aspect of ongoing process development. Moreover, integration of capture and conversion of CO2 remains an outstanding issue.

On the other hand, direct air capture (DAC) methods involve low concentration streams, are intrinsically smaller scale, and are distributed. DAC has previously proven economical when adopting passive technologies to capture CO2 but given the volumes of CO2 captured the economics of the system are questionable. Examining a full techno-economic analysis of existing DAC technologies and life cycle analysis to understand the efficacy of these methods to reduce the global carbon footprint are underway. The technical opportunities to modularize and intensify such distributed capture technologies, including the use of membrane and electro-membrane technologies as well as facilitated separation and conversion of CO2 to address energy consumption, high capex costs, and integration of renewable energy sources to provide an alternate pathway for rapid penetration of carbon capture technologies.

Need and Impact:

Reducing the energy penalty associated with capture of CO2 is crucial to reduce the cost of carbon capture and enable the economic advancement of CO2 as a commodity stream rather than a waste stream. Moreover, distributed capture of CO2 through modular processes can significantly change the economics of decarbonization pathways.

Key outcomes:

Reducing the energy penalty and therefore reducing the cost of point-source capture of CO2. The adoption of modularization and intensification are likely to render the commercialization of DAC systems globally.


Executive Education and Workforce of the Future Development

Overview:

The CCME will develop a series of educational learning opportunities to provide 1-2 day, 1 or multiple week experiences, and ultimately a series of course for ongoing learning to keep pace with the changing requirement of the workforce in sustainable development of energy. It will be designed for all levels of incoming learner knowledge and will seek to provide a comprehensive understanding of the 3 key market areas of energy (oil and gas, petrochemicals and electric power) and the role of sustainable development in each area. This education will be designed to understand the techno-economics of fuels and feedstock, role of sustainable development in process and generation technologies and the overall competitive alternatives as the energy transition presents additional regulatory challenges to existing business practices and operations.

Need and Impact:

The CCME will create a learning center for existing workforce to keep pace with change and to grow in the breadth of understanding of the comprehensive energy landscape as energy sustainability is defined and redefined over time. Currently, the challenges of sustainable development are not integrated into the systems level thinking of energy systems and is a significant challenge for energy workforce at all levels. The workforce of the future will also be a learning group target.

Key outcomes:

To be a globally recognized center for energy and “real sustainability” in the energy industry so that all critical aspects of supply, cost and environmental responsibility are properly recognized and solutions that are truly accretive and sustainable are developed.