Japan CCS (JCCS), a carbon capture and storage (CCS) investigation company headquartered in Tokyo, has been finalising the commercialisation of its technology for the separation, capture, transportation and underground storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as R&D and trials.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), JCCS has constructed a demonstration plant in the city of Tomakomai, Hokkaido.
METI scheme, the Tomakomai CCS Large-Scale Demonstration Project, is being conducted over a nine-year period, beginning in 2012 and running until 2020 – and represents Japan’s first CCS demonstration project.
During its first four years in operation from 2012-2015, JCCS completed all preparatory works for the plant, including the design, construction and trials of facilities including separation, capture and pressure injection.
From April this year, METI’s plans to conduct pressure injection and CO2 monitoring commenced, with JCCS commissioned by the ministry to commence regular operations and pressure injections from the first of the month. On 4th April, the plant began receiving gas containing CO2 and on 6th April, the company began injecting pressurised CO2 into selected seabed layers.
Over the course of the demonstration project, more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 each year over a three-year period will be injected with pressure, stored in a storage medium under the sea at two different depths and monitored. METI is aiming to put this CCS technology into practical use around 2020.
Based on an investigation by the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE, a public interest incorporated foundation) and other private companies, the Tomakomai location was chosen for the project out of 115 other potential target locations. Tomakomai was selected due to its location – the site contains large plants as CO2 emission sources and a large amount of geological information in oil and natural gas developments.
In a separate investigation, it was also revealed that there were several storage strata under the seabed of Tomakomai’s port and harbour which were suitable for long-term and safe CO2 storage. As a result, the Tomakomai site was selected as the prime location to conduct the CCS trials.
CO2 is captured from the gas generated at the existing Idemitsu Kosan hydrogen (H2) production facility on the coast. With the pressure swing adsorption (PSA) compressor, some of the gas is taken out of the underflow before being raised to the operational pressure of the CO2 absorption tower and transported to separation and capture facility. From the gas, CO2 is separated out and captured with a density of over 99%.
In the process, the CO2 is absorbed with an amino solution in the CO2 adsorption tower before being depressurised in the low-pressure flush tower, where CO2 is then emitted from the amino solution. The remaining CO2 is diffused by heating the amino solution, with the captured gas then sent to the injection facility where the pressure is raised before being injected into the well.
During JCCS’s four-year preparation period, the company carried out several investigations into the undersea storage environment. It conducted observations on the potential effects of natural earthquakes and micro vibrations, as well as the wider ocean environment. JCCS constructed and installed land and sea seismometers and ocean bottom cables in order to gather basic preliminary data, forming the basis for similar future projects.
The company maintains that the results from its investigations will set the standard in operating ground equipment, including gas supply facilities, CO2 capture and separation facilities and CO2 pressure injection facilities, as well as excavation of pressure injection wells and carrying out CO2 pressure in a safe manner.
JCCS was established in May 2008, acting in conjunction with a government policy to promote CCS as a means of supressing global warming. The organisation was formed as a result of capital subscription from 24 companies comprising of eleven in the electric power sector, five oil wholesalers, four engineering companies, two in oil development, one steel corporation and one in the chemical industry – all of which have specialised technologies in fields related to CCS.
CCS refers to the technology which separates and captures CO2 from facilities such as thermal power plants and factories that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and then inserts it underground using pressure.
By storing CCS over a long period of time, CCS technology has been developed to suppress CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere.
At the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) held in France at the end of 2015, the ‘Paris Agreement’ was adopted as a global framework for measures to deal with global warming by 2020.
As a result, and to promote the development of various countermeasure techniques in preparation for GHG reductions, an historic agreement was formed to keep the rise in global temperatures to under 2°C. CCS is widely viewed as being an effective technology to carry this out, along with energy conservation and applications of renewable energy.
Additionally, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has proposed to halve the amount of CO2 emissions by the year 2050. On the back of this, it is anticipated that CCS will reduce worldwide CO2 emissions by roughly 6.5 billion tonnes.
Early development of CCS and its increasing usage are being demanded as one of the direct measures for the reduction of CO2.
In the North Pacific rim country, the Ministry of the Environment, which has previously taken a very prudent stance regarding the construction of new coal-fired thermal power stations based on the Environmental Impact Assessment Law, approved the construction on the condition of the involvement of the electric power industry and its measures to reduce CO2 emissions. This was propelled by METI’s high-efficiency implementation and greater monitoring capacities in CCS technologies.
From a global perspective, CCS technology development is not a new concept. Other than enhanced oil recovery (EOR, a method for increased oil production and recovery), the Norwegian Sleipner CO2 Storage Project launched pressure injection in 1969 – signifying the world’s first practical project.
There are currently projects for practical application or trial projects in Canada, Algeria, the US, Australia and France. As of November 2015, there were a total of 15 projects for practical CCS applications including EOR, with a further seven under construction.
In Japan, the first results of CO2 injection underground were achieved via EOR test projects. In Kubiki, Niigata Prefecture and Sarukawa, Akita Prefecture oil fields around 10,000 tonnes were successfully injected with pressure in 1991 and 1997, respectively.
Since 2000, the RITE has been investigating developments in underground CO2 storage, subsidised by METI. The first trials of its technology were conducted by Teikoku Oil at the Iwanohara base of its Nagaoka mine in Fukazawa-cho, Niigata Prefecture.
Nippon Ekitan began to deliver CO2 via tankers to the site in 2003, ready to be stored in an aquifer 1,000m underground. During the course of 18 months, a total of 10,000 tonnes of CO2 was inserted using pressure.
The effect on the environment, behaviour of the CO2 underground, the economic performance and general safety of the overall system were examined and studied through data collected from two observation wells. Following the result of a distribution simulation 1,000 years from now, it was concluded that CO2 could be soundly stored over a long period of time.
The Gas Review, issue no. 422