March 12, 2024

Unlocking the Potential of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS): Tracer Technology as an Industry Win-Win

In this post, we look at CCUS as a critical technology for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

In the global effort to combat climate change, Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) has emerged as a critical technology forreducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and mitigating the impactsof climate change. Tracer technology is vital for optimizing CCUS operations and maximizing their efficiency, helping operators monitor and optimize CO2 injection through risk-free methods. In thispost, we explore the importance of tracer technology for CCUS and its role in advancing sustainable energy solutions.

Understanding the Carbon Capture Process

CCUS involves capturing CO2 emissions from industrial sources, such as power plants and manufacturing facilities, transporting the captured CO2 to storage sites, and injecting it into deep geological formations for long-term storage. This process requires precise monitoring and validation to ensure the safe and effective storage of CO2underground.

CCUS plays a critical role in supporting the energy transition and mitigating climate change. To limit global warming to well below 2degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, CCUS must be deployed at scale alongside other mitigation measures, making it essential for achieving ambitious climate targets. It is essential for capturing CO2emissions from industrial sources and addressing emissions from hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, steel, and chemicals, where decarbonization options are limited, enabling them to continue operating while reducing their carbon footprint.

The Role of Tracer Technology in CCUS

Tracer technology plays a crucial role in the CCUS process. It can optimize CO2 injection in existing assets, either for storage, pressure support, or EOR operations. Here's how tracer technology contributes to the success of CCUS initiatives:

Storage Validation

Tracer technology is utilized to monitor the injection of CO2into underground storage formations. Tracers are injected alongside CO2into storage reservoirs, allowing operators to confirm the integrity of the injection process, assess CO2 migration and dispersion, and ensure that stored CO2 remains contained over time.

Integrity Verification

Tracer technology is instrumental in detecting CO2 leaks from storage formations. Tracers deployed in CO2 wells can detect the migration of CO2 into surrounding rock formations, hydrocarbon reservoirs, or groundwater aquifers, enabling prompt action, remediation, and minimizing environmental consequences. Further, caprock integrity and well integrity can be monitored with tracers.

Reservoir Characterization

Tracer technology enables characterization of the subsurface, providing information on communication pathways between injectors and producers or observation wells. Based on interpretation, the significance of the communication can be quantified, and the accessed volumes can be calculated. Tracer information will test and improve reservoir models, contributing to more efficient CO2 utilization.

Advancing Sustainable Energy Solutions

Tracers are non-dangerous organic compounds, leaving a very small carbon footprint compared to most other monitoring technologies. The advanced chemical analysis methods allow detection of tracers in concentrations of parts-per-trillion level or lower, resulting in minimal amounts of tracer needed – only a few kilograms per project. By enhancing the efficiency, safety, and reliability of CCUS operations, tracer technology plays a pivotal role in advancing sustainable energy solutions. With the ability to describe reservoirs, validate storage, and detect leaks, tracer technology enables safe and efficient deployment of CCUS on a global scale. 

As the world transitions to a low-carbon future, CCUSwill play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigatingclimate change. With tracer technology, we can unlock the full potential ofCCUS and pave the way for a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

Sven Kristian Hartvig