A university lecturer has recently put forward a radical idea that may help solve the environmental difficulties associated with fossil fuels. Here at Webforge, providing the materials and tools to make oil rigs and gas platforms safe and effective is a huge part of what we do. That's why we're excited to hear about this amazing plan that could make the platforms much more environmentally friendly.
It's time to lay carbon capture and storage (CCS) to rest
Carbon capture and storage has long been touted as a means of lessening the environmental impact of fossil fuels. It's based on the theory that coal and gas plants would be able to separate the carbon dioxide from their escaping gases and capture it in underground reservoirs. This would eradicate the environmental effects of the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
There are several problems with this theory, the principal one being that so much energy is required to separate the carbon dioxide that it almost completely offsets the benefits of minimising its release in the first place.
So, what's the alternative?
Senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen Tom Baxter has put forward a radical new idea as an alternative to the CCS method. In an article he wrote for The Conversation, he argues that we can take the process of in-situ combustion one step further in order to minimise the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In-situ combustion is already used fairly widely to extract heavy oil by feeding the hydrocarbons with oxygen and burning them, which thins the heavy oil and vaporises it. Mr. Baxter instead suggests burning the hydrocarbons to generate steam, which could then be taken to the surface and used to drive turbines which would create electricity. This would mean we could use the energy potential of fossil fuels without releasing the hydrocarbons to the surface.
What are the difficulties?
Mr. Baxter admits that we are still a long way off even beginning this process. There are both financial and technological challenges, particularly the fact that the build up of carbon dioxide underground may in itself be harmful, and there would have to be very efficient ways of ensuring it stays sealed underground.
However, the idea does represent a way of making fossil fuels more environmentally friendly, and Webforge are excited to see where it might go. For more information on the services we provide to oil and gas platforms, please contact us.