Research

Overview

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) – the separation of carbon dioxide from other flue gases, its transport to suitable storage sites, and its injection and storage in deep geological formations – brings together technologies which have been commonly used in the oil, gas and chemical industries for many years.

Many chemical plants around the world separate carbon dioxide from other gases and the technology is well-known. Carbon dioxide is already transported thousands of kilometres by pipeline in North America. There are also many places in the world where carbon dioxide is injected deep underground.

Carbon dioxide has been injected into oil fields to enhance recovery of oil since 1972. Some of the injected carbon dioxide remains in the oil field, so in this sense injection and storage has been underway commercially for 35 years. Injection of carbon dioxide to enhance oil recovery is now taking place commercially in the United States of America, Turkey, Trinidad and Canada. While many of these projects use naturally occurring carbon dioxide taken from underground deposits, some have more recently used carbon dioxide from industrial waste streams, such as from the manufacture of fertiliser, or carbon dioxide separated from natural gas during processing.

Both research and development storage projects and commercial projects in Australia and across the world are underway or being planned to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and to prove the capabilities of developing technologies to lower storage costs.

In addition to industry funding and significant involvement of the research community, the Australian projects are supported by governments through a range of programs, including the CCS Flagships Program, the Cooperative Research Centres Programme, the Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund, and various state initiatives.

Demonstration and pilot projects

Our aim is to demonstrate that CCS is a viable option for CO2 mitigation under Australian conditions. CO2CRC also considers appropriate regional strategies for CO2 mitigation and keeps abreast of international developments through participation in other international demonstration projects.

CO2CRC is currrently involved in two major carbon capture and storage demonstration projects in Australia. These are:

  1. The CO2CRC Otway Project. This is Australia’s first demonstration of the deep geological storage of carbon dioxide. The project is of global significance. It involves leading Australian and international researchers working as part of CO2CRC to develop and implement a rigorous monitoring and verification program that complements the demonstration of the subsurface storage. The project is also leading the way in defining regulatory requirements for carbon dioxide storage.

  2. The UNO MK 3 Capture Plant. Since 2004 the CO2CRC solvent capture team at the University of Melbourne have been developing a precipitating solvent process using potassium carbonate (K2CO3) with many advantages over conventional amine processes, including significant environmental benefits and much lower energy requirements.

    The UNO MK 3 Capture Plant (CO2CRC/GDF-SUEZ) at Hazelwood power station in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley is capturing one tonne of CO2 per day from power plant flue gas. It allows researchers to identify engineering issues and resolve them and verifies simulation results. The plant was built with funding from the Victorian State Government through Brown Coal Innovation Australia (BCIA) and CO2CRC partners including the Federal Government, with the support of GDF SUEZ Australian Energy. The plant will operate to 2014.

  3. Completed demonstration projects:

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