Saturday, May 25, 2024

Digitalization is Drawing CCS a New Learning Curve

February 27, 2024

  • SLB and Microsoft have partnered with Northern Lights on a data platform that will serve as the digital infrastructure for the Northern Lights project. Image courtesy of SLB
  • Project data harvesting under a ‘design one, build many’ strategy will see increasing levels of replication and re-use of the entire value chain of project data, says Gary LeMaire, Senior Director, CCUS at Worley. Image courtesy Worley
  • Carbon Clean is developing a proprietary digital platform for its operations to maximize data value, says Prateek Bumb, Carbon Clean co-founder and CTO. Image courtesy Carbon Clean
  • There is a need for maintaining a digital footprint of individual streams of CO2 in large, multi-stakeholder projects, says Per Jahre-Nilsen, Energy Consultant at DNV Image courtesy DNV
  • Nigel Greatorex, Global Industry Business Manager for CCS at ABB Energy Industries, says a lack of operational experience is a major hurdle to mainstream adoption of CCS. Image courtesy of ABB
  • MAN Energy Solutions provide multi-stage compressors for CCS applications. Image courtesy of MAN Energy Solutions

Digital solutions are accelerating the progress required to ensure CCS earns its place in climate change mitigation history.

Carbon capture has been around since the 90s, but the behavior of CO2 in pipelines is still not that well understood. A lack of suitable multiphase flow assurance models has meant that past CCS projects have had to apply large, costly safety margins to transport and injection systems. 

Between 2020 and 2022, the CO2FACT project addressed the shortfalls, and along with the development of the LedaFlow simulator, the knowledge gaps are being closed. LedaFlow will come with an improved module for pure CO2 in the spring of 2024. A module for CO2 with impurities will follow shortly afterwards.

“This is what I think of as action science: experimental physics to deliver commercial software is happening on the fly,” says Jan Gerhard Norstrøm, Managing Director of the Ledaflow Joint Venture at Kongsberg Digital. Simulation is key to de-risking expensive infrastructure. “The big decisions and cost savings happen on the drawing board,” he says. If you simulate before you build, you could save millions.


Experimental physics to deliver commercial software is happening on the fly. Jan Gerhard Norstrøm, Managing Director of the Ledaflow Joint Venture at Kongsberg Digital.
Image courtesy of Kongsberg Digital


Gary LeMaire, Senior Director, CCUS at Worley, says project data harvesting under a ‘design one, build many’ strategy can help reduce total installed cost by >20%. It can also accelerate delivery schedules, because it increases replication and re-use of the entire value chain of project data from engineering design through procurement, fabrication, construction and commissioning. It also enables closer partnerships to be formed between supply chain partners.

Partnership deals are booming. In 2023, Carbon Clean signed an agreement with Samsung Engineering to explore onboard carbon capture opportunities for its CycloneCC technology and another for technology for Ørsted’s FlagshipONE eMethanol project in Sweden. Carbon Clean is developing a proprietary digital platform for its operations. “Our priority is working with customers to understand how digital technology can be applied to their operations,” says Prateek Bumb, Carbon Clean co-founder and CTO.



The behavior of CO2 in pipelines is still not that well understood.
Image courtesy of Kongsberg Digital

The behavior of CO2 in pipelines is still not that well understood.
Image courtesy of Kongsberg Digital


Northern Lights

SLB and Microsoft have partnered with Northern Lights on the development of an Azure-compliant open-source data platform that will serve as the digital infrastructure for the Northern Lights project. Digital solutions are essential for designing, deploying and operating CCS projects safely and economically at scale, says Trygve Randen, Senior Vice President of Digital Products and Solutions, SLB.

The company’s Delfi digital platform is designed to augment and connect multiple workflows with data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The platform is open, so while it can handle reservoir modeling for carbon storage site selection and the ongoing modeling of stored CO2, it can also integrate with other digital technologies to provide end-to-end solutions for CCS.



Digital solutions are essential for designing, deploying and operating CCS projects safely and economically at scale, says Trygve Randen, Senior Vice President of Digital Products and Solutions, SLB.
Image courtesy of SLB


This value-chain view will be critical. The CO2 being sequestered by CCS projects such as Northern Lights is not being sold as such, but it will require end-to-end tracking, because its value will be in green credits. Per Jahre-Nilsen, Energy Consultant at DNV, points to the need for maintaining a digital footprint of individual streams of CO2 in large, multi-stakeholder projects for the certification of credits.It’s important to think of CCS as a system consisting renewable energy production, carbon processing and CO2 storage, says Ron Beck, Sr. Industry Marketing Director, Aspen Technology. Digital twins may have been an optional optimization tool in the past, but they are essential now and should span the entire system. Digital twins enable process optimization such as cutting energy consumption and improving capture rates and solvent efficiency, each of which could improve project economics substantially. They also enable optimization of system-wide processes such as energy delivery. Only then will CCS economics really work in the long term, for everybody, said Beck.

He cites 1PointFive which plans to build around 100 capture facilities over the next 15 years. “You want to learn very quickly,” he says, so that the optimization can be carried forward fast. The sensors and digital solutions that enable this should be put in place during construction. It’s what he calls being ‘born’ digital. “When we design the plant, we also design in the sensors to get the right data to understand how it’s performing so we can improve the next one.”

Nigel Greatorex, Global Industry Business Manager for CCS at ABB Energy Industries, says a lack of operational experience is a major hurdle to mainstream adoption of CCS. The impurities found in CO2 streams will differ between projects and could impact OPEX. CO2, especially from post combustion applications, comes with impurities which can form strong acids making corrosion a major operational risk.


Digital twins help de-risk CCS processes.
Image courtesy of ABB

“By understanding the fluid, a digital twin can be developed that takes into account those impurities and can also monitor and reduce the amount of power needed to pressurize and heat the CO2,” says Greatorex. “This is important because energy is not always easy to get to on a CCS network. There is not always a source of power at the point of injection or the midpoint of a pipeline or even excess power at the capture source. By deploying a digital twin, operators can be sure the plant is not over-compressing or overheating, resulting in significant OPEX savings.”ABB’s automation, electrical and digital solutions are being integrated into the Northern Lights project which is due to be operational by mid-2024. They will enable the remote operation of the carbon capture terminal and ensure that the facility runs at optimum efficiency.

Remote operation promises reduced OPEX, as do unmanned platforms - something being pioneered in the Aker BP-operated production platforms Hugin A and Munin, expected to be operational in 2027 and which are built without accommodation space or helipad. MAN Energy Solutions’ scope of work on that project includes a digital solution for remote operation of its multi-stage compressors. The experience gained will be transferrable to CCS, says Jörg Massopust, Head of Digital Sales & Alliances.

AI solutions will enable predictive maintenance to extend the time between inspections and overhaul. Then autonomous operation with completely computerized operation of the equipment will come with robotic surveillance for visual, leakage and noise inspections. Robots will do the normal daily maintenance and report to a remote operations management center.

Next will be humanization of those digital systems where human-like avatars will report proactively to human operators. “This will come in the next decade: maybe even in this decade.”


Remote operation promises reduced OPEX.
Image courtesy of MAN Energy Solutions

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