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Speakers corner 06 November 2023

Charting the Future of European CO2 Transport Networks

The European Energy Research Alliance's Joint Programme on Carbon Capture Transport and Storage (EERA CCS) recently enlightened the energy community with a webinar featuring Professor Roland Span, renowned for his work at Ruhr-University Bochum. As the leader of Sub-Programme 2 on CO₂ Transport in EERA CCS, Span delved into the intricacies of developing a European CO₂ transport network.

A Vision for Discrimination-Free CO₂ Access

Span emphasized the DG Energy's ambition to develop a European Transport Network with discrimination-free access, regulated asset basis, and multi-modal transport. He underlined the changing role of industry in this dynamic landscape, highlighting the shift from purely project-specific CO₂ specifications towards broader European standards. The drive towards standardized, continent-wide protocols results from the urgency to avoid or at least minimize structural disadvantages for regions far from storage sites.

The Critical Role of European Standards

In the quest for seamless CO₂ transport, Professor Span stressed the importance of European standards. Current practices, often project-specific and fragmented, must evolve to encompass a unified approach. Span advocates for a pan-European framework, ensuring consistency and clarity for all stakeholders. Germany's DVGW has worked on pipeline-focused national standards for quite some time, but is now inviting European partners to align efforts in different European countries as a first and in particular fast step towards a European standard.

Guiding Principles in CO₂ Transportation

Delving into the technical realm, Span discussed the guiding principles for CO₂ transport. These include avoiding two-phase flow, preventing the formation of corrosive phases, and ensuring that the health and safety impact of impurities in CO₂ streams is always negligible. These principles are not just technical mandates but essential strategies to enable streamlined permission processes.

Managing Impurities: A Balanced Approach

Span brought attention to the nuanced approach required in managing CO₂ impurities. He distinguished between negotiable and non-negotiable impurities, where the formation of solids and corrosion must be strictly avoided. Conversely, non-condensable gases, while increasing transport pressure and costs, offer optimization opportunities in the whole chain cost, from capture to storage.


Figure 1- A slide from Professor Span's presentation titled “Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Impurities

Research and Innovation Initiatives

Highlighting several research areas, Span pointed out the need for innovation in flow and composition measurements and understanding the effects of acid-forming impurities on phase equilibria. These research areas are not just scientific endeavours but are critical to informing the standards and practices for future CO₂ transport.

Span also underscored the importance of targeted fundamental research in these domains.

"The need for what we call targeted fundamental research has been very clearly expressed. We've observed that existing funding mechanisms, as they currently stand, don't align effectively with the accelerated pace and specific needs of this kind of research. The challenge ahead lies in whether we can successfully implement new strategies that address these critical issues in a more direct and focused manner, diverging from the broader scope typically seen in conventional funding approaches."

Roland Span, Sub-Project Leader CO₂ Transport EERA CCS
Chair of Thermodynamics, Ruhr-University Bochum

This candid assessment highlights a critical gap in the current research landscape, pointing to the need for more specialized and focused funding approaches to address the nuanced and pressing challenges in CO₂  transportation.

Looking Ahead: Standards and Synergies

Professor Span's vision extends to the development of new transport standards and the recognition of potential synergies between pipeline and ship/tank transport methods. The anticipated ISO standards, while general, will lay the groundwork for more detailed national and European-level specifications. The development of these standards is crucial, as Span notes, for the industry's ability to plan and execute CO₂ capture and transport strategies effectively.

This webinar is part of an ongoing series hosted by EERA CCS. The series is one of the many benefits of being a member of our joint programme, fostering a dynamic environment where researchers, academics, and industry professionals can discuss, challenge, and enhance their understanding of critical topics in the field. This consistent exchange of knowledge and ideas through such webinars contributes to EERA CCS's mission of accelerating the development and deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies.