(Nanowerk News) The Energy Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith last week attended a dedication ceremony at the Air Products and Chemicals hydrogen production facilities in Port Arthur, Texas. Supported by a $284 million Energy Department investment, the company has successfully begun capturing carbon dioxide from industrial operations and is now using that carbon for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and securely storing it underground. This first-of-a-kind, breakthrough project advances carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies and demonstrates the potential to safely secure carbon dioxide pollution underground while providing an economic benefit and increasing our energy security.
At full-scale operation, more than 90 percent of the carbon dioxide from the product stream of two methane steam reformers — or approximately one million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year — will be delivered for sequestration and EOR, which will lead to an estimated annual increase in oil production of 1.6 to 3.1 million barrels from the West Hastings oil field located about 20 miles south of Houston, Texas.
“The Energy Department is investing in cutting-edge technologies that will help us safely and more sustainably develop all of America’s rich energy resources,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith. “This groundbreaking project demonstrates the potential to produce economic benefits and increase our energy security while greatly reducing the environmental impacts of our fossil energy use.”
The two retrofitted Air Products and Chemicals plants produce commercial bulk hydrogen primarily for use at the nearby Valero refinery. The approximately $431 million project, supported by $284 million from the Energy Department, included retrofitting the plants with an innovative system that separates carbon dioxide from the steam reformer product gas during hydrogen production, followed by compression and drying processes. The Energy Department investment also helped construct a 13.1-mile-long feeder that connects the two plants to an existing 325-mile, 24-inch carbon dioxide pipeline, Denbury’s Green Pipeline, that begins in Louisiana and ends at the West Hastings field. Careful carbon dioxide monitoring, verification, and accounting activities to ensure the injected carbon dioxide remains in the underground geologic formation will take place throughout the lifetime of the project.
The first plant has been capturing carbon dioxide since December 2012, while the second plant completed construction in February and began carbon capture operations in March. Both units are now operating at full capacity. Over 222,000 tons of carbon dioxide have been captured and provided for storage as of early May.
The Port Arthur project is part of the Energy Department’s broader efforts to leverage cutting-edge research to show that not only can Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology help industry make fossil energy use cleaner, safer and more sustainable, it also shows promise as a method to extract more, hard-to-access and presently untapped fossil energy resources. By putting the captured carbon dioxide to use, Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) provides an additional business and market case for companies to pursue the environmental benefits of CCS.