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Carbon Capture, Storage Research Could Enhance NatGas Production

Researchers from Virginia Tech and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) made progress over the summer on a more than $14 million project to develop safer carbon storage methods that could also help recover more natural gas from shale and coalbeds.

The research, DOE said Tuesday, built on a series of enhanced gas recovery experiments conducted by the university's Center for Coal and Energy Research in recent years in the Chattanooga Shale in Morgan County, TN. That research "yielded positive results indicating that enhanced recovery of natural gas liquids on a larger scale should be pursued."

Last summer, NETL and Virginia Tech researchers expanded on their work in Tennessee by testing the use of carbon dioxide captured from power plants and industrial facilities in natural gas production. The goal of the research is the safe and permanent storage of carbon dioxide.

In July, researchers injected about 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide into a coalbed methane field in Buchanan County, VA. They continue to monitor the field through three injection wells and 20 off-set producing wells, using data acquisition systems; tracer monitors to track the carbon plume underground, seismic monitors and other state-of-the-art equipment. The project is expected to cost about $14.4 million, nearly $11.5 million of which was awarded by the DOE. It comes as part of a broader effort by the NETL to explore better carbon capture and storage methods.

The Virginia Tech-NETL project was started in 2011 and builds on other coalbed carbon storage tests conducted in Appalachia by one of seven partnerships in the region. Those groups are also working to determine the best approaches and technology to permanently store carbon dioxide.

The DOE has also worked in recent years on research and development that could improve the economic performance and expand the applicability of carbon injection to a broader group of reservoirs in basins across the country for enhanced oil recovery (see Shale Daily, Dec. 24, 2013).

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