Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an essential aspect of responsible resource development. Canada currently emits more than 700 megatonnes of greenhouse gasses (CO2, CH4 and N2O) per year and has made a bold commitment of reducing emission to 524 megatonnes per year.
Our national energy challenge to dramatically reduce GHG emissions while meeting ever-increasing energy demands.
University of Alberta researchers in the field of carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), are exploring ways to store CO2 safely, investigating how CO2 can be used as a tool for unconventional oil recovery, and converting CO2 into valuable chemical precursors.
One option being explored is converting CO2 into more valuable products, helping in economic diversification Researchers at the U of A are developing materials that purify CO2 using as little energy as possible—or convert it into carbon monoxide to produce high-value chemicals.
Another major research area is enhanced oil recovery, where refined CO2 is used to “push” currently inaccessible oil from underground reservoirs and trapping the CO2 underground. U of A researchers are participating in industry-driven CO2 capture projects determining how best to safely inject CO2 into underground oil reservoirs. The International Energy Agency estimates that globally, this method could store more than 350 gigatonnes of CO2 and access 1.3 trillion barrels of oil.
- The process also helps to commodify CO2 for new products and purposes, curtailing emissions by transforming a harmful waste product into a safe, marketable product.
- Tom Etsell and Jingli Luo from the U of A, working with Partha Sarkar from Alberta Innovates, have responded to the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation CO2 Grand Challenge with a fuel cell that combines CO2 with methane to produce both electricity and carbon monoxide, an important precursor for the chemical industry.
- Rick Chalaturnyk (Foundation CMG Chair in Reservoir Geomechanics) and Ben Rostron (Faculty of Science) are members of the research committee overseeing the geological storage component of Aquistore, applying their expertise in safe, long-term storage to the world’s first commercial post-combustion CO2 capture facility located in south-eastern Saskatchewan.
- Hydrocarbons burned with pure oxygen produce cleaner CO2 that can be readily compressed for storage. Through the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative, a major U of A research partnership with the Helmholtz Association of Germany, Steve Kuznicki (NSERC/NOVA Chemicals Senior Industrial Research Chair and Canada Research Chair in Molecular Sieve Nanomaterials) and his German collaborators have developed a novel material to economically separate pure oxygen. This patented technology is en route to the market.
- Tayfun Babadagli (NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Unconventional Oil Recovery) is applying advanced technologies, including the injection of CO2, to optimize oil recovery, making unconventional resources more accessible to industrial producers in Alberta and around the world and reducing CO2 emissions.