Category Archives: Health, Safety, and Environment

Mitigating Disaster–A Look at the Ohmsett Oil Spill Research and Test Facility

Robin Beckwith, Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online

On 11 October 2011, the X Prize Foundation announced the winners of the USD 1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE, launched during the summer of 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico. According to a press release, “the competition inspired entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface.” Emerging from an original field of more than 350 submissions from all over the world, Elastec/ American Marine of Carmi, Illinois, captured the USD 1 million first prize, with Norway’s NOFI Tromsø awarded the USD 300,000 second prize; no contestant’s cleanup system qualified to receive third prize.

Testing the 10 finalists’ technologies in order to determine the winner would have been impossible were it not for a facility called Ohmsett (Oil and Hazardous Materials Environmental Test Tank). What is Ohmsett, and why is it so critical to the development of oil spill prevention and mitigation technology?

Read the full article in the December 2011 issue of JPT

Can Geoscientists Resolve the CCS Paradox?

International energy and climate organizations have found carbon capture and storage (CCS) to be a promising technology to resolve the squeeze between fast-growing global energy needs and global warming. Even environmental organizations say that making our energy use more efficient and building enough new renewable energy capacity takes too long. We need to get the CCS working to curb the growing greenhouse gas emissions if too large a climate change is to be avoided.

CCS consists of three major interdependent steps:

  • Capture the carbon, CO2 out of flue gases, either from the stack of a power plant or the blast furnace top gas in iron making.
  • Transport it by pipeline or ship it underground.
  • Safely keep it in a storage site for thousands of years.

The technology for each of these steps has been used for decades in the industry, mostly in oil and gas. The important change is the scale–from about 100,000 to 1 million metric tons per year in the past. Today, we see the need for handling 10 million tons in each installation and for perhaps several thousand installations. The amount of CO2 produced from one power station varies from 2 million to 10 million tons; a modern iron-making blast furnace emits up to 10 million tons per year. The costs of the technologies for a large-scale CO2 handling chain are estimated to be split roughly 75%-10%-15% for capture-transport-storage.

Read the entire article in the December 2011 JPT.

Tore A. Torp is adviser for CO2 storage at Statoil, leading the storage part of Statoil’s research and development program (R&D) on CO2 capture and storage. He joined Statoil in 1984 from the steel industry. Between 1984 and 1996, he led large international R&D cooperation projects developing complex offshore field technologies. Since 1997, he has been project manager of Statoil CO2 storage R&D projects. He was vice chairman of the CSLF Technical Group, and was a lead author of the IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. He received a PhD in material sciences from Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Quantifying the Invisible: Getting a Handle on Methane’s Climate Impact

Robin Beckwith, Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online

Earlier this year, a Cornell University professor made quite a splash publishing a paper asserting that emissions from shale gas rivaled those from coal. A July 2011 study issued by the Post Carbon Institute underscored this conclusion. Not so, say five separate recent reports–from Carnegie Mellon University, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), the US National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Argonne Laboratory, and Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors (coauthored by individuals from Worldwatch Institute and ICF International). At heart are issues related to measuring and quantifying emissions of an odorless, colorless gas–methane (CH4)–considered the second-most prevalent long-lived greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2).

Read the full article in the November 2011 JPT.