Carbfix project – from gas to rock

About Carbfix project – from gas to rock

CarbFix is a collaborative research project between Reykjavik Energy, the University of Iceland, Columbia University and CNRS that aims at developing safe, simple and economical methods and technology for permanent CO2 mineral storage in basalts. The CarbFix team had demonstrated that over 95% of CO2 captured and injected at Hellisheidi geothermal Power Plant in Iceland was mineralized within two years. This contrasts the previous common view that mineralization in CCS projects takes hundreds to thousands of years. Industrial scale capture and injection have been ongoing at the power plant since 2012. This project has evoked reactions worldwide as global warming is dangerously approaching 2°C which is seen as having catastrophically consequences.

Why Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)?

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming of more than 2°C would have serious consequences, such as an increase in the number of extreme climate events. The Paris agreement from the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015 sets out a global action plan to limit global warming to bell below 2°C. The agreement is the first ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.

To reach this target, climate experts estimate that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be reduced by 40-70% by 2050 and that carbon neutrality (zero emissions) needs to be reached by the end of the century at the latest. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has furthermore estimated that carbon capture and storage is vital if the world is to limit global temperature increase to 2°C.

CarbFix for future reduction of greenhouse gases

Reducing industrial CO2 emissions is considered one of the main challenges of this century. By capturing CO2 from variable sources and injecting it into suitable deep rock formations, the carbon released is returned back where it was extracted instead of freeing it to the atmosphere.  This technology might help to mitigate climate change as injecting CO2 at carefully selected geological sites with large potential storage capacity can be a long lasting and environmentally benign storage solution.

hellisheidi-power-plant

Picture of Hellisheiði Power Plant. Photo: Arni Saeberg.

To address this challenge, the CarbFix project is designed to optimize industrial methods for storing CO2 in basaltic rocks through a combined program consisting of, field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks, laboratory based experiments, study of natural analogues and state of the art geochemical modeling. A second and equally important goal of this research project is to generate the human capital and expertise to apply the advances made in this project in the future.

Details and results of this research program, including regular updates, can be found on this website https://www.or.is/english/carbfix-project/about-carbfix

The objectives and procedure behind Carbfix project

The main objective is to develop new method and technology for capturing CO2 and H2S emission and turn into rock, carbon and Sulfur fixation so to speak. Basalt plays key role in the mineralization process as it contains high amount of calcium, magnesium and iron and these chemicals interact with CO2 and H2S to form minerals. They form Calcite from CO2 and fools gold from H2S.

Picture of ‘fools gold’                                                          Picture of Calcite

The procedure is described as injecting the captured gas into the earth again, where they were originated. It involves separating CO2 and H2S from other gases in the scrubbing system. During scrubbing the gases CO2 and H2S are dissolved in water resulting in a type of mineral water. This water is then injected into basaltic host formation and the outcome is fools gold from CO2 and Calcite from H2S. The mineralization takes about 2 years and is stable for centuries or even millions of years.

core-injection-site

Picture of Core from injection site showing CO2 bearing carbonate minerals within basaltic host rock. Photo: Sandra O Snaebjornsdottir

The method developed can be utilized wherever carbon dioxide is emitted in the vicinity of basaltic rock and water and sea. These conditions are widely found on the planet.

What are the goals of CarbFix?

CarbFix is aimed at developing new methods and technology for permanent CO2 mineral storage in basalts. This is done through a combined program consisting of:

  • field scale injection of CO2 charged waters into basaltic rocks
  • laboratory based experiments
  • study of natural analogues
  • geochemical modeling

A second and equally important goal of this research project is to generate the human capital and expertise to apply the advances made in this project in the future as mentioned above.

The worlds hottest borehole is nearly complete

ici-17-01-2017-image-1

Icelands Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), was founded in 2000 by a consortium of three Icelandic energy companies, who are now drilling deep into the heart of a volcano in the south-west of Iceland. Iceland, sitting on the boundary between two major tectonic plates, is one of the most volcanically active places in the world. The project is located on the Reykjanes peninsula, where a volcano last erupted 700 years ago.

In a discussion with the BBC on 14th of December 2016, researchers reported that in the next couple of weeks they should reach a depth of 5km, where temperatures are expected to exceed 500C (932F). That is the deepest level of drilling so far in the world.

Asgeir Margeirsson, CEO of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) in his interview with the BBC hopes that this will open new doors for the geothermal industry globally to step into an era of more production.

“That’s the aim – that’s the hope. We have never been this deep before, we have never been into rock this hot before, but we are optimistic.” Said Asgeir Margeirsson.

Harnessing this energy through geothermal technology is already well established in Iceland. In this area at Reykjanes, they typically drill to 2km or 3km depth to harness the steam, to run power plants and produce clean, renewable electricity as explained by Asgeir Margeirsson. They want to see if the resources go deeper than that.

The drilling has now reached nearly 4,500m, and the team expected it to hit its target depth of 5km by the end of the year 2016.

When the drill gets to 5km, the team expects to find molten rock mixed with water. But with the extreme heat and immense pressure found at this depth, the water becomes what is known as “supercritical steam”.

It is neither a liquid nor a gas, but it holds far more energy than either. It is this “supercritical” steam that the team wants to bring back up to the surface to convert into electricity.They believe its special properties mean it could produce up to 10 times as much energy as the steam from conventional geothermal wells. They don’t expect to drill into magma, but are drilling into hot rock which is around 400 to 500C.”

 

ici-17-01-2017-image-2
Black basalt rock that has been collected from deep beneath the ground

Mr Margeirsson said that if this works, in the future they would need to drill fewer wells to produce the same amount of energy, meaning they would touch less surface, which means less environmental impact and hopefully lower costs.

“But that is if this works. This is full-scale research and development – we don’t know what the outcome will be.”  And there is a good reason to be cautious. With volcanoes, expect the unexpected.

Prof Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a volcanologist at the University of Iceland, reports that even though Iceland has more than 300 volcanoes, there is still much to learn about them. At the same time he states that this drilling project, however, would give geologists a unique vantage point to see the interior of a volcano.  He emphazises the importance of this project and the possible fundamental discoveries about how volcanoes work, learn about their properties and conditions.

The IDDP team says it is currently “drilling blind”, which means no rocky debris is coming back up to the surface. Instead, it is somehow being absorbed into the surrounding rocks.  Without being able to examine the rock, it means the geologists really are heading into the unknown.  However, with only a few hundred metres to go, they are optimistic that the world’s hottest borehole is now within their sights.

The IDDP project is funded by energy companies (HS Orka, Statoil, Landsvirkjun and Orkuveita Reykjavíkur), Orkustofnun (the National Energy Authority of Iceland), the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the National Science Foundation in the US and EU Horizon 2020.

Innovation Center Iceland holds its Industry Advisory Group meeting

mynd_nmi

First regional IAG (Industry Advisory group) meeting was held in Iceland last week in Reykjavík. The formation of the group is to provide input and advice on the implementation of the GREBE project in Iceland.  The Group shall meet once a year in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and ICI in in charge of organizing the meetings.

On the meeting GREBE project was introduced and members circulated about the project relevance in Iceland and how it could affect their business. Members discussed opportunities in renewable energy and technology, and knowledge transfer between GREBE partners.  Next meeting will be held in 2017.

Iceland Regional industry advisory group.

Kristján Leósson from Innovation Center Iceland (www.nmi.is)

Sigurður Friðleifsson from Iceland Energy agency (www.orkusetur.is)

Viðar Helgason frá Iceland Geothermal (www.icelandgeothermal.is)

Salóme Guðmunsdóttir Start up energy Reykjavík   (www.startupenergyreykjavik.com)

Valur Rafn Halldórsson from the associations of municipalities on cold areas.  (skss.is)

Harpa Pétursdóttir chairman of The Association of Women in Energy (https://www.facebook.com/konuriorkumalum/?fref=ts)

Skírnir Sigurbjörnsson from Arctic Hydro (www.arctichydro.is)

Sæþór Ásgeirsson from Icewind (www.icewind.is)

GREBE Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA & Arctic Regions

4-1-cover

Global climate change impacts Europe in many ways, including: changes in average and extreme temperature and precipitation, warmer oceans, rising sea level and shrinking snow and ice cover on land and at sea. These weather phenomenons have led to a range of impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and human health and safety. There is no doubt that the changes in climate will have a strong impact in our daily life, whether we accept extreme weather conditions as a new phenomenon or not. Adaptation to the past history data, present observed and future predicted impacts will in the coming decades be needed, as well as be complementary to global climate mitigation actions. Narvik Science Park has made a report on this in the GREBE-Project.

4-1-image

Background

The harsh climatic conditions experienced in many NPA regions, particularly high north and arctic regions, present significant challenges to SMEs and start-ups that can seriously impact on the viability of their businesses. Winter storms regularly occurring in the high north, known as polar lows or arctic weather fronts, can bring about sudden and extreme drops in temperatures, with debilitating ice and snow conditions developing quickly. Also, in the North West Europe the influence from the North Atlantic Oscillation give rise to storms, resulting in high winds and precipitations. These conditions frequently give rise to unsafe working conditions and suspension of business operations, particular in the case of technology installations. Operational environments in these areas are often vulnerable irrespective of climatic conditions, given their isolated, remote locations, far away from technical maintenance staff, and which are often difficult to access by road, air or sea. Businesses located in these areas must compensate for fragile and less robust parameters, in order to cope with unforeseen sudden disturbances (for instance, climate change effects).

There are significant climate challenges in the partner regions with different types of harsh weather. Low temperature, hard winds, and rain/ snow conditions can be extreme in the NPA regions. The question is – how to find the best process conditions for business in remote NPA communities, where knowledge transfer is an important aspect. A harsh local/regional climate, sparsely populated areas together with rural geographic related issues and poor infrastructure have a tendency to bias the company’s business models.

Effects on GREBE regions in Northern Europe

Findings from the work of NSP – In the northeastern part of Europe there is a high societal disturbance caused by wind, rain and in some sense also freezing rain. Since the occurrence of harsh weather conditions are not frequent, the effect will be more palpable. In comparison the norther part of Europe, i.e. Iceland has a frequent presence of high wind conditions that in this case will be more of a “normal” continuous state in daily weather.  In the northeast coastal regions of Europe, the weather is more unpredictable with suddenly arising storms, i.e. polar lows, delivering both rain/snow and windy conditions. In the mainland northeast regions there are precipitation and in conjunction with this often cold climate.

“Local extreme weather” – The weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions is considered to be affecting the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when affects and may have serious consequences to compete in an open market. The trends in towards more local extreme weather is indicating the following spread in northern Europe:

  • Ireland/Northern-Ireland – Wind & Storms
  • Scotland – Rain & Wind
  • Iceland – Wind & Cold
  • Norway – Snow & Cold
  • Finland – Ice & Snow

The economic outcome is then a vulnerable factor in these NPA regions that gives a negative bias for local business and a non-favorable competitive disadvantage compared to similar businesses in other EU regions.

The Regional readiness

The readiness from the society to handle harsh weather and local “extreme” conditions varies from country to country in northern Europe. The regional readiness in local “extreme weather conditions” should be an important measure when establishing new enterprises and a serious risk analysis should be made before each activity starts, by taken in account the possibility for weather disturbance. Based upon the description below from each GREBE partner region, an indicative regional or even local perception has to be defined. The overall measure that indicates some connection between local “extreme weather frequency” and a corresponding indication of society readiness can be of great value. This opens for a discussion and action plans or even a business strategy plan, concerning suddenly weather extremes that are changing in a fast manner, like for example in frequency and behavior. This will also reflect the current climate change in coherence with business activities that we are experiencing and specifically when it is expected to make the biggest noticeable effect on the environment in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions. The regional readiness in society is of great importance when considering time loss of energy, restriction in transportations or not operational production.

However, the impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions. The frequency of these weather phenomenons can be severe when an indirect impact occurs, e.g. avalanches, coldness, strong winds and flooding will also in the future cause disturbances in the society. These occurrences mainly affect the accessibility to production plants and the mobility of staff. Nevertheless, there is always a high risk that the safety aspect will in each situation not be fully understood. The “local extreme weather” is always important to relate to for both personnel and business operations.

Conclusions –  climate effects on society business

  1. Regional cooperation – The widely spread geographical areas of northern Europe, is experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to its location, but also possible opportunities that can be overcome and realized by regional cooperation. The experience from each region may be introduced to other Northern European areas and innovations from different parts in society can be used to create specific growth initiatives and common efficient business opportunities of the European Northern and Arctic regions in a climate efficient way. One major impact of challenges and initiatives in business operations is the influence of weather conditions on society and in the extension also SME business operations and productivity located in these areas.
  2. Strategic handling – Today, many operators in society refer to weather as a restriction in budget and argue that it is a phenomenon that has an actuable impact on business. However, the weather can be a strong benefit for the business when an updated insight into the specific local conditions is available and by using a strategic handling document based upon regional knowledge and experience from other businesses. Even national weather organizations are today providing companies this service.
  3. Variety of weather – The final implication is that a change in weather pattern will result in a variety of weather phenomenon that can affect the NPA regions in a different matter. There are different effects on the society, depending upon the specific region, i.e. flooding, wind, and disturbance on roads by fallen trees and avalanche.

You can download the report from the GREBE Project website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/GREBE-Report-on-the-Influence-of-Environmental-Conditions-in-NPA-Arctic-Regions.pdf

A product that comes straight from the nature

orkanatturunnar

How do you differentiate your product from that of the competitors? Áslaug Thelma Einarsdóttir raised that question at Branding energy conference that was held in Reykjavík, Iceland in late September. Áslaug Thelma is head of marketing at Orka Náttúrunnar, state owned company, wholly owned by Orkuveita Reykjavíkur, the Reykjavík power company. Orka Nátturunnar was established to comply with Icelandic regulations regarding separating of competing and non-competing entities in the energy market. The company produces both electricity and hot water form geothermal resources.

Áslaug pointed out that one of the things that make the energy market unique is that the consumer isn´t necessary all that well aware of the product he´s paying for, “How do you differentiate a company like ours from other sellers when the product is something that consumer can’t see, and you´d rather not want him to touch?”

Early on, the company decided on a strategy that focuses on forward thinking and having a positive influence on both environment and the community. “in our marketing work we´ve emphasized that what we produce, both electricity and hot water, come straight from the nature, and is a part of the quality of life that we enjoy on this island. We want to send clear message about what kind of business we are, and let the “heart“ of the company shine through everything we do.”

It is in this spirit tha Orka Náttúrunnar has worked on developing new products and Áslaug points out that the company has, among other things, focused on building a network of charging stations electric cars. “When we started on the path there were hardly more than 50 electric cars in whole Iceland, but now I gather there are more than a thousand. We want to do our part to help with environmental friendly and forward-thinking transition in transport in Iceland and have been able to play a key role,” says Áslaug, but today Orka Náttúrunnar runs thirteen charging stations. It´s been very pleasant to see how fast thing have developed. There´s great interest in switching from fossil fuels to green energy and now we’re seeing more and more companies want to install charging stations both for their employees and for customers.”

aslaug

This interview was published in the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið 19.09.2016

GREBE Project meets in Iceland

img_3713

The fourth partner meeting of GREBE project was held in the third week of September in Ísafjörður Iceland.  Before the actual meeting we had a successful policy meeting in Reykjavík. The policy meeting is part of the GREBE project and have similar meetings been held in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Finland. One of the key objectives is to identify and promote opportunities for policy to provide an effective supporting framework for sustainable renewable energy business.  Current policy framework has been reviewed in each partner region.  Michael Doran director of Action Renewables and partner in GREBE presented the summary report on the meeting in Reykjavík. The report is available in GREBE´s homepage www.grebeproject.eu.

Furthermore, several informative presentations were delivered on Iceland´s policy in renewable energy. Ingvi Már Pálsson, Director of the Department of Energy and industry in the Ministry of Industry and commerce (www.anr.is ), presented government policy in the field of renewable energy in Iceland.  Baldur Pétursson from the National Energy Authority (www.os.is) discussed the regulations and the support system for RE business in Iceland and Jón Björn Skúlason, general manager for Nýorka (www.newenergy.is), looked into challenges with integration of eco-friendly fuels.

After the policy meeting we had several site visits on the way to Ísafjörður. First stop was the Innovation Center Iceland (www.nmi.is) were Kristján Leosson managing director for Materials, Biotechnology and Energy told us about the startup company XRG Power (https://greberenewableenergyblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/xrg-power-in-iceland/) and other ongoing projects at his department. We also met HS Orka (www.hsorka.is) were Albert Albertsson the concept creator of the Geothermal Resource park welcomed us. (http://static.bordar.is/audlindagardur/straumakort_en.mp4). Finally we met with Einar Hreinsson specialist at Marine Research Institute which introduced us to prototype of a new fishing gear where light is used as a herding stimulus. This fishing gear has a considerable reduction of towing resistance, compared to conventional trawls and could cut fuel costs per kg fish caught by 40%.

 

The GREBE Project visits Iceland

geothermal

The GREBE project partners will hold their fourth partner meeting in Reykjavik and Isafjordur in Iceland this week.  We have a busy schedule planned with the Western Development Commission (www.wdc.ie) and Innovation Center Iceland (http://www.nmi.is/english) working to co-ordinate the programme to fit in as much as possible.

On Tuesday morning, we’ll hold a Policy Workshop at Innovation Center Icelands offices in Reykjavik, this will be followed by a meeting with XRG Energy http://www.xrgpower.com/, the first part of our partner meeting and a Steering Committee meeting.   Then on Wednesday we have a packed day, with site visits to Auðlindagarður Svartsengi (http://www.resourcepark.is/) and the IDDP project (http://www.landsvirkjun.com/researchdevelopment/research/iddpproject/) as we travel to Isafjordur.

On Thursday and Friday, we will continue our project meeting at the Innovation Center Icelands offices in Isafjordur.