German involvement in international projects

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2.1.1 Joule II

The Joule II Project "Underground Disposal of Carbon Dioxide" was the first European research project examining issues associated with underground CO2 disposal. Its goal was to assess quality and quantity of CO2 available from fossil fuel power plants, to examine pipeline transport of CO2 and to examine various options for underground disposal. Furthermore it addressed safety and stability issues, investigated the geochemistry associated with underground disposal and carried out techno-economic modeling.

The Joule II consortium comprised the Geological Surveys of the UK (BGS), France (BRGM) and The Netherlands (TNO-NITG), the IKU Petroleum Research Institute of Norway and the University of Sunderland (UK). The German energy industry was represented in this project by the company RWE AG.

2.1.2 GESTCO

The GESTCO (GEological STorage of CO2) project started in 2000. It was initiated to assess the European potential for geological storage of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion. Participants were the Geological Surveys of eight European countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Norway, Netherlands, UK, and the research institute ECOFYS).

Figure 2. Sedimentary basins in Germany > 1 km depth, hosting natural gas fields and aquifer structures that could provide storage capacity. Case study sites and regional storage capacity investigations (1-4) (BGR, GESTCO).

The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) calculated CO2-emissions for large industrial point sources and mapped the extent of potential storage areas in aquifers and deep unminable coal seams. Storage capacities were estimated for the various underground storage options: aquifers, deep unminable coal fields, oil/gas fields and abandoned coal and salt mines in Germany (cf. Figure 2). Finally, a descriptive geologic overview was compiled of potential CO2 storage formations in Northern Germany (Permian and Mesozoic) and an overview of the regional distribution of seals.

The data compiled were incorporated into a common CO2 Storage Geographic Information System (GIS) for Europe, established within the GESTCO project and covering the territory of the participating countries and their off-shore areas as well. This GIS comprises the first systematic compilation of CO2 point sources and potential storage facilities in Germany.

Two case studies, the abandoned natural gas field Alfeld-Elze and the Buntsandstein aquifer close to the planned power plant Lubmin have been selected for numerical simulations of CO2 injection into the reservoirs and long-term migration, thermodynamic modeling of potential reactions between formation water, CO2, and reservoir rocks, and for cost calculations with a decision support system developed by TNO- NITG.

BGR and the British Geological Survey (BGS) jointly prepared a report on CO2 storage safety and conflicts of use.


Two German institutions, BGR and RWTH-Aachen University, were project partners in the EU project NASCENT (Natural Analogues for the Storage of CO2 in the Geological Environment) from 2001 to 2004. Various locations with natural occurrences and different intensities of CO2 emission were selected in France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Italy and studied in great detail to analyse the conditions, effects and processes related to long-term underground storage of CO2.

In the Vorderrhon area in central Germany natural CO2 occurs below and locally within Permian Zechstein salts and was produced commercially until the 1980s. Here BGR conducted detailed geological studies, analyses of fluid obtained from wells and sampled in salt mines in the overburden of the CO2 reservoir Oechsen (Fig. 2). Soil gas surveys were performed to identify potential leakage pathways of CO2 to the surface. In addition, BGR operated automatic soil gas monitoring systems and provided expertise for surveys at the other NASCENT sites.

Within the NASCENT project, RWTH-Aachen performed fundamental experimental laboratory work to assess the sealing efficiency of cap rock sequences overlying potential CO2 storage targets. The experiments comprised permeability tests, assessment of the capillary gas-sealing efficiency of water-saturated rocks and diffusion experiments with CO2 in water-saturated rocks. Selected results from this project work are shown in Figure 3. The experimental data were subsequently used to develop models for the prediction of leakage rates from CO2 reservoirs.


Figure 3. Capillary gas sealing efficiency (breakthrough pressure) vs. gas permeability of cap rocks (RWTH-Aachen, NASCENT).


Figure 3. Capillary gas sealing efficiency (breakthrough pressure) vs. gas permeability of cap rocks (RWTH-Aachen, NASCENT).


RWTH-Aachen University and DBI-GUT, a company specialized in underground storage of natural gas, were the two German partners in the EU RECOPOL project (Reduction of CO2 emission by means of CO2 storage in coal seams in the Silesian Coal Basin of Poland) that started in November 2001 and will finish in 2005. RECOPOL was initiated and co-ordinated by the Netherlands Institute of Applied Geoscience -National Geological Survey (TNO-NITG) in co-operation with the Polish Central Mining Institute (GIG) to investigate the feasibility of CO2 underground storage in unminable coal seams in combination with the production of coal bed methane (CBM). The project comprised extensive laboratory studies on high-pressure sorption and transport processes of methane and CO2 in coals, performed mainly at the Technical Universities of Delft (The Netherlands) and RWTH-Aachen, in close co-operation with the Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP). The main achievement of RECOPOL was the first European field test on CO2 storage in deep coal seams in the Silesian Coal Basin of Poland near the city of Katowice.

RWTH-Aachen contributed extensive experimental data sets on single gas and mixed gas sorption capacity, selectivity and kinetics which were incorporated into reservoir simulation software in close collaboration with the Australian partner CSIRO Petroleum.

DBI-GUT was in charge of planning, preparation and supervision of the engineering activities at the RECOPOL CO2 injection site.

Figure 4 shows the scheme of the RECOPOL field test with CBM production from an existing well (MS-4) and CO2 injection into the newly drilled MS-3 well. Liquid CO2 is delivered by trucks and stored on-site in two 30 t storage tanks.

Figure 4. The RECOPOL field test.

2.1.5 CASTOR

The CASTOR (CO2 from Capture to Storage) project started in 2004 and aims at the development of new technologies for the separation of CO2 from flue gases and its geological storage. The development of tools and methods to quantify and minimize the uncertainties and risks linked to the storage of

CO2 is another aim of this project. Thirty parties from industry, research organisations and universities participate in this integrated project. Three off-shore and one on-shore hydrocarbon reservoirs have been selected as case study sites. On the CO2 storage side, BGR is the only German project partner but has subcontracted experimental work on the characterisation of seal efficiency to RWTH-Aachen University. At the Atzbach-Schwanenstadt natural gas field in Austria, BGR conducts soil gas investigations, including flux measurements, monitoring and isotopic and geochemical analyses of gases. Furthermore, BGR coordinates the studies on preventive and corrective action technologies for leaking wells and faults. RWTH-Aachen investigates CO2 transport processes in core samples from the cap rock sequences above the gas reservoirs. In the context of the demonstration of subsurface storage of CO2 in a nearly depleted gas reservoir and enhanced gas recovery, RWTH will perform further experiments on cap rock sequences of an offshore hydrocarbon reservoir in the Netherlands (K12-B).

On the capture side, the University of Stuttgart provides a mini power plant for the development of efficient methods for CO2 extraction from flue gas. German companies involved in the project are Siemens AG and RWE Power, participating in the evaluation, optimisation and integration of postcombustion capture processes in power plants and the process validation of a pilot capture plant. BASF contributes to the developing and improving of solvents for CO2 separation.

2.1.6 CO2SINK

CO2SINK is the first EU project on CO2 emission reduction initiated and co-ordinated by a German research institute. It was proposed by GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ, National Research Centre for Geosciences) Potsdam as an in-situ R&D laboratory for geological storage of CO2.

The target reservoir is located near the town of Ketzin (Fig. 2) west of Berlin and Potsdam at a depth of ~700m and represents a sandstone aquifer of several tens of metres of thickness. The scope of the project comprises a baseline geologic survey with a detailed risk assessment to ensure safe injection and storage of CO2. Detection and monitoring of the injected CO2 is another focus in this project.

A total of 14 organisations from 8 European countries, including universities, research institutes and industrial companies are presently participating in this project. Its aim is to integrate CO2 injection into a framework of CO2 capture facilities including a biomass power plant.

2.1.7 CO2STORE

CO2STORE is a European integrated project with the aim of transferring the experience gained in the scientific projects SACS I+II from StatoiFs offshore CO2 injection to other potential storage sites with different geological conditions. One of the four additional cases proposed is the lignite fired power plant Schwarze Pumpe in East Germany. For this power plant BGR had to find potential storage sites capable of taking in 400 Mt of CO2. The only gas field with a storage capacity of this magnitude is located in the Altmark (Fig. 2). Numerical modelling to simulate CO2 injection and enhanced gas recovery have been performed for this reservoir. One of the identified aquifer structures, Schweinrich (Fig. 2), has been selected for further characterisation of the reservoir structure and caprock properties. Risk assessments are carried out together with BRGM (the simulation of geochemical reactions), NITG-TNO (long-term CO2 migration simulation) and Vattenfall/NITG-TNO.

2.1.8 CO2GeoNet

The EU has initiated a Network of Excellence for CO2 capture and storage, intending to facilitate a better co-ordination of research activities in this field. The network comprises 12 institutes from 8 European Countries was formed in 2004. BGR is the sole German participant. After initial activities to create inventories of relevant research infrastructure and to identify gaps in knowledge and future research needs, longer term joint research begins in 2005.

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