From Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 10. ENERGY EFFICIENT MEMBRANES FOR INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS
"Separation technologies recover, isolate, and purify products in virtually every industrial process. Pervasive throughout industrial operations, conventional separation processes are energy intensive and costly. Separation processes represent 40 to 70 percent of both capital and operating costs in industry. They also account for 45 percent of all the process energy used by the chemical and petroleum refining industries every year. Industrial efforts to increase cost-competitiveness, boost energy efficiency, increase productivity, and prevent pollution, demand more efficient separation process. In response to these needs, the Department of Energy supports the development of high-risk, innovative separation technologies."
In an article by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory entitled Oil and Natural Gas-Future Supply and Emerging Resources, it was stated:
"Despite seemingly large resources, we are becoming increasingly dependent on imports (imports' share of gas supply has tripled since 1985, and imports' share of oil supply has jumped to almost 60% from 27% in 1985). More importantly, the domestic industry has been unable to increase production despite strong price incentives and increased drilling.
The root cause of this difficulty is the progressive change in the remaining resource base. Industry has picked much of the Nation's "low-hanging fruit", and remaining resources are increasingly found both in deeper, more remote, more complex reservoirs (high cost and high risk), or in shallow, drilling-intensive, low-productivity reservoirs. Policy actions alone cannot change the nature of the resource base – dramatic cost-and risk-reducing technological improvements are needed in order to make the nation's vast oil and gas resources viable to produce. These resources are not being developed by the major oil and gas companies; instead, they are in the hands of thousands of small independent operators who have little capacity or incentive to produce long-term/high-risk R&D."
The Tenoroc technology is directed towards enabling the use of energy sources currently deemed economically unviable and capitalizing on the current demand for environmentally friendly and energy efficient solutions, which is growing exponentially.
According to an Environmental Leader article entitled, Exxon Bets $100M On Test To Clean CO2 From Natural Gas:
Quoting an ExxonMobil Senior Vice President, the advantages of this technology are threefold:
"It could offer an affordable answer to the removal of carbon dioxide and other substances from natural gas; assist in the development of additional gas resources to meet the world’s growing demand for energy; and facilitate the application of carbon capture and storage, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
It appears that ExxonMobile's technology consists of a very large facility with a very high tower that attempts to convert the CO2 into a nongaseous phase using cryogenic energy and pressure changes at various stages within the tower. ExxonMobile calls this technolgy the Controlled Freeze Zone (CFZ). Armington believes that its technology will be a better option than CFZ with respect to efficiency, equipment cost, footprint, and energy consumption. The Armington technology might also be used as supplementary or complimentary technology to CFZ.
From Oil and Gas Eurasia, June 2009
Just a Spoonful of Sugar: Finding Profit in Sour Gas Fields
"Natural gas unanimously occupies a place ahead of other fossil fuels for its superior hydrogen content and lower emissions. Globally, there will be no shortage of gas anytime soon, with reserves estimated at around 165 tcm.
Though this might sound comforting, there is a blot on this idyllic landscape. Only one blight spoils this idyllic landscape: about one third of the natural gas reserves contain high carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide concentrations, which considerably hinder commercial development of such deposits. Gas containing hydrogen sulfide is toxic, highly corrosive and can significantly harm the environment. Its treatment requires the application of sophisticated technologies and adds substantial costs. However, at present, the world structure of natural gas reserves is changing for the worse. Clean and easily accessible feedstocks have run low. Almost 50 percent of global reserves are considered difficult to produce, requiring heavy spending.
Consequently, more and more companies all over the world are interested in developing sour gas fields, i.e. gas containing hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide and other gas impurities. For example, Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Ltd. announced its intention to invest about $25 billion in the construction of two large gas processing plants and ten new onshore pipelines with a total length of 1,500 kilometers. Abu Dhabi Gas joined ConocoPhillips and began development of the Shah gas field, which contains 30 percent hydrogen sulfide. In the long run, such unconventional hydrocarbon sources may be of significant importance in the world fuel balance. There are over 400 sour gas fields in the world, and about 130 are located within the European part of Russia. Currently, development of such fields is impeded by engineering and environmental problems. Their development requires solving complicated tasks to ensure engineering and environmental safety and economic efficiency. One of the major tasks is to utilize produced sulfur, which is not in high demand at present."
"The Shah sour gas field is located around 180km southwest of Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. Originally, the project was to be developed jointly by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and ConocoPhillips. In July 2008, both parties agreed to develop the project, and in July 2009 agreed to share the project cost. A new company was expected to be set up to the project, where ADNOC would have a 60% stake and ConocoPhillips 40%. In April 2010, however, ConocoPhillips declared its decision to end its partnership in the Shah gas project. ConocoPhillips said that the decision was part of the company's shift in focus from downstream and midstream activities towards upstream exploration and production activities. However, industry analysts feel that the estimated low returns from the project may have been responsible for the decision. The move is also being considered as the company attempts to improve its financial position after it adopted a failed debt-financed acquisition strategy in 2008. ADNOC is expected to go ahead with the development of the project and is planning to take on a new strategic partner. Shell, which was one of the four firms short-listed for the project, is being considered as the frontrunner for the partnership."
According to an Innovations Report article of 5/12/2006
"Huge underground gas reserves, up to 16% of the total reserves, remain unused. The natural gas in these fields is too contaminated for exploitation. With existing technology, cleaning these fields is much too costly... It is almost impossible to convey the economic value of 16% of the world’s reserves. They represent more than 360 times the annual natural gas production of Shell, Exxon, and BP put together."