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Our faculty will have world class capabilities in their SME areas for transformative research that will contribute to necessary solutions. Only by organizing and catalyzing the cross-disciplinary collaborations will the result be greater than the sum of the individuals. The project teams will organize around marketplace challenges and will be driven by a seed grant process that not only encourages multi-purposed teams and projects, but in fact requires it to be so. Our CCME will be aligned in teams for outcomes and not in functional research areas providing a unique and most effective approach to results.


Safe and Reliable CO2 storage

Overview:

As the need and business opportunity to store CO2 emissions, there is compelling requirement that the storage be safe and permanent for the CO2 in geologic formations. These formations include saline aquifers, depleted oil and gas reservoirs, and unconventional formations and they must be identified and assessed, tested and proven fit for purpose, the CO2 measured, monitored and verified for permanence and the plume or migration of the CO2 confirmed and inventoried. Maximum storage potential must be realized through the estimation and monitoring of the impact of fluid storage on reservoirs, quantification of short- and long-term risks, detection of migration or changes potentially causing leakage, inventory and certification of stored CO2 will be the ultimate goal.

Need and Impact:

To realize CO2 storage for credits and for the public assurance of safe and permanent storage, there must be technical assurance and ability to certify performance beyond projections or mathematic assumptions. There must be a method and confidence factor in the assurance methods – all of which will feed into the ability to drive business, policy and legal frameworks for the CO2 storage.

Key outcomes:

Development of models, practices, procedures operations and maintenance of a practice that can deliver the assurance of performance short and long term and a framework where risk and impact can be assessed and integrated into a business framework for successful deployment in the market.


Business Case for CO2 Use through 45Q for either Enhanced Oil Recovery or for pure Storage

Overview:

Business, Legal, science and technology, and engineering principles in Petroleum and Process Engineering will be centered in the CCME around the principles of 45Q and what the NPC and DOE have outlined for the “broad commercial deployment of CCUS and CO2 storage”. Our CCME competence will focus on policy and legal briefings and education as well as a platform for informing advocacy in the marketplace. Business and legal frameworks to growth the market in 45Q applications will be supported through our center of excellence established to work closely with the needs of those in the market for research and business scenario development.

Need and Impact:

In anticipation of the results of the NPC study – findings from OGCI developments – and market developments such as a global price on carbon or trading mechanisms that may follow, there will be white spaces in need of capability and capacity to perform work and research. Our CCME will be positioned to respond and lead in assessments and in support of advocacy from the findings and results.

Key outcomes:

White papers and position papers to inform policy makers, government, NGO and industry stakeholders. To convene thought leaders in symposiums and idea exchanges and provide a platform for global engagement of not only US but global players in the market. To be a trusted, non-biased voice and resource that can be utilized and leveraged for CCUS, 45Q and CO2 management.


Enhanced Oil Recovery in Unconventional and Enhanced CO2 storage

Overview:

The attached describes the opportunities in not only enhanced oil recovery – but in the enhanced utilization of pore space for the storage of CO2.

Need and Impact:

Pore space and the realization of oil revenue potential has become even more of an opportunity beyond conventional fields to the unconventional plays. Also, with the change in market and business conditions, pore space and the value of it for CO2 storage can also be maximized.

Key outcomes:

To demonstrate in several geologic regimes the performance through modeling and actual demonstration and to develop higher degrees of confidence and risk assessment methods in both exploration and production.


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.


Public Policy and Legal Framework for Carbon Management

Overview:

Advancing carbon management in the U.S. and globally, requires careful development of legal frameworks and public policy models that can find broad acceptance. The CCME brings influential groups from the Center for Energy, Environment and Natural Resources in the UH School of Law, the Hobby School for Public Policy, and the Gutierrez Energy Management Institute in the Bauer College of Business along with academic programs across the university to comprehensively address the frameworks. The production and development of white papers, advocacy platforms and risk management will be in support of new business models for use, re-use, disposal, long term liability and policy in all areas of carbon management related to CO2, CH4, water, land use, public access and environmental impacts of all forms of carbon management approaches.

Need and Impact:

The market is evolving and demanding new and innovative approaches to carbon management that challenge existing legal framework and policy. The potential to transform progressive carbon management through the EENR programs and the development of continuing educational legal programs can impact not only the workforce of the future, but the continuing needs of the existing workforce. The market will require a center of excellence dedicated to carbon management progressive legal approaches and can serve the stakeholder community as a knowledge center.

Key outcomes:

Global recognition as a knowledge sharing center and educational provider to the stakeholder community.


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.


Zero Emissions Refinery

Overview:

The integrated processing units and supporting utilities infrastructure will be concurrently assessed and evaluated for the achievement of a zero emissions (water, air emissions including CO2, and solid wastes) refinery. The challenges of brownfield and greenfield applications of unit operations with optimized emissions systems will be considered. The technical implementation of existing technologies and new improvements will be analyzed with full techno economics in a series of business cases to create opportunities for zero emissions. Included will be renewable sources of electricity, advancement of hydrogen based industrial heating, zero carbon support infrastructure, grid technologies, optimization and linear program analysis of operating conditions and parameters. The CCME will engage with a broad group of engineering faculty with full support from business and the computer sciences department for optimization and verification.

Need and Impact:

All market participants are today assessing their existing carbon footprint and evaluating methods and technologies and systems to lower or eliminate hydrocarbon emissions from process units, fuel headers and overall plant operations. New technologies must be integrated with existing and the ability to make investment quality decisions on process plant changes to eliminate emissions will be not only costed but valued in terms of overall performance and the achievement of a lower carbon footprint that will approach or meet zero.

Key outcomes:

To provide a methodology and rigor to investment and operational decision-making for existing operational leadership and to inform the design of new facilities with zero carbon footprint as a first order need.


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.


Advanced Monitoring of Natural Gas

Overview:

Developing new technologies to quantitatively monitor a broad range of highly distributed assets for natural gas (methane, ethane and propane) leaks and economically implementing such technologies at field scale combine a variety of key advances such as development of high quality and high fidelity sensors based on light (visible and infrared) and acoustic methods, wireless communications, data analytics, robotics and automation. CCME is uniquely placed to handle the development of such systems as UH has the experts and facilities to develop the sensor systems, deployment technologies, data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning based tools at the HPE-DSI, as well as growing expertise in robotics and automation focused on asset integrity management.

Need and Impact:

Reduction of fugitive methane emissions is increasingly becoming a key issue for environmental and social license to operate challenges and because of the number of possible points of leaks from well head to pipelines to compressors to valves and seals as well as chemical processing units, developing rapid, mobile, reliable and real-time quantitative systems are critical.

Key outcomes:

Development of rapid technologies to address broad and distributed fugitive methane and light hydrocarbon emissions with economical and real-time operating systems.


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.