The project, known as CCSNET, has been designed to support the CarbonNet Project, which is investigating the potential for a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage network. CarbonNet, which is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments, aims to bring together multiple CO2 capture projects in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, transport CO2 via a shared pipeline and inject it into deep underground, offshore storage sites in Bass Strait.
CCSNET is a collaborative network of research infrastructure comprising laboratory upgrades and new plant and equipment located at universities and national research centres in Victoria, the ACT and South Australia. Marine monitoring infrastructure is also located offshore in Gippsland, Victoria.
CCSNET will build on existing research and development facilities at the CO2CRC Otway National Research Facility and enhance its global profile as one of the premier subsurface laboratories for carbon capture and storage in the world. CCSNET will also make an important contribution to accelerating capture field trials in the Latrobe Valley.
The Capture Analytic Equipment and Laboratory at the University of Melbourne is now capable of handling the corrosive solvents and the dangerous gases that are fundamental to safe, best practice carbon capture research. In March 2016 renovations were completed to complement this new infrastructure to create a world-class facility. The renovation will house the CO2CRC solvent capture and membrane technology research groups.
The Capture Analytic Equipment and Laboratory is responsible for six specific research projects with clear objectives around cost reduction, technical optimisation and scale-up.
The primary objectives of Otway Stage 3 are appraisal, implementation, demonstration and validation of a novel subsurface monitoring of a CO2 storage system and storage operation. This research project will assist CarbonNet and other CCS projects in Australia in the development of subsurface monitoring as fit-for-purpose at a commercial scale.
Successful demonstration of the Stage 3 project can:
Both aspects are key challenges to overcome for CCS projects world-wide.
The Seismology Monitoring Network will provide cheaper and more accurate seismology monitoring of CCS in complex, ‘noisy’ ocean settings such as the Gippsland Basin. The network will allow a detailed understanding of the background seismicity, and coastal and ocean noise levels within the entire basin with a level of fidelity that is currently not possible in either the Gippsland or Otway Basins. With the lead taken by the University of Melbourne, the Seismology Network will improve CO2CRC’s understanding of seismology activity at a lower cost with greater accuracy, and will provide data for the CarbonNet project, which is investigating the potential for a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage network in Gippsland.
The Dynamic CCS modelling platform is a bespoke computer program specifically built for studying the full CCS value chain. It allows for analysis and decision-making by multiple stakeholders in a capture project, including the emissions producer.
The capture plant, the compression system, the transport network and the storage site are all examined as part of this model. The purpose of the platform is to optimise all stages of the value chain, and seek and prove technical efficiencies which can be applied at post-combustion sites in Australia and around the world. The result will be will cost savings embedded in the design and construction of CCS plants globally.
The CTLab, located at ANU, houses state-of-the equipment including an electron microscope capable of automatically imaging the mineralogy of core materials or cuttings at a resolution of a few microns up to samples of several centimetres in extent, and will enable scientists to observe carbon dioxide being trapped in aquifer rocks.
The core scanning facility represents value to CarbonNet because it measures micro-scale (pore) measurements of geometries and processes to compare to macro‐scale measurements of bulk petrophysical properties derived from SCAL. This allows for upscaling to be calibrated between pore and sample scale, equivalent in scale as progressing from sample to reservoir flow unit.
Marine Monitoring Network and Seabed Processes – will allow for validation of monitoring and verification technologies in the marine environment. This is an important consideration when developing offshore storage projects when taking account of environmental sensitivities. Marine monitoring research assets will be operated by the CSIRO based on the world-leading marine monitoring expertise of their Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship.
The Marine Monitoring Network and Seabed Processes will provide certainty to regulators and the community that CCS is safe to the environment in which it operates – specifically marine environments where many storage sites are viable.
Image courtesy of CSIRO. Photo by Carly Devine.
The Atmospheric Monitoring Network – which allows CO2CRC and The University of Melbourne, supported by the University of Wollongong, to develop an open-path measurement system for atmospheric trace gases including CO2 and CH4, by using two instruments at a single site along with a series of reflectors, all deployed within the Gippsland Basin. The project leaders are pioneers of open-path techniques using Fourier Transform Spectroscopy and world leaders in the use of such measurements to infer emissions. These assets will establish regional baseline CO2 levels and inform the design and installation of the optimal network for monitoring sources and sinks of CO2 in a proposed storage area.
Through the Bioreactor & Geomicrobiology Laboratory CO2CRC will establish Australia’s only purpose-built laboratory for studying the effects of supercritical CO2 on subsurface microorganisms under realistic conditions, enabling a new and complementary research direction for Australia that parallels international research efforts. The project will advance general research into CO2 storage optimisation strategies through innovative and experimental geo-microbiological approaches. The Bioreactor will research the microbial and biogeochemical processes that can affect aquifer porosity, mineralogy and chemistry, and investigate direct and indirect microbial responses to elevated CO2 in geological formations. Benefits for industry include being able to understand the existing microbial environment of a storage site to understand how the injection of CO2 may impact microbial activity on the formation or dissolution of minerals and the effects of co-injected SOx and NOx.
The Fluid Flow Equipment & Geochemistry Laboratory will enable a large range of geochemical and coupled transport-geochemical research projects related to CO2 storage, such as impact of contaminants and trials of various corrosion-resistant materials. This will further the understanding of fluid interactions within the injected CO2 plume as well as of fluid-rock reactions at the plume fringe. Trials of injected CO2 with impurities is of interest to better understand the potential role of impurities for long-term CO2 storage.