Research group explores synergies at US energy innovation centre

A group of senior scientists from the EU-funded SECURe project has kickstarted a fact-finding trip to North America with a visit to the US’s national centre for innovation in energy technologies.

The 10-day visit to the US and Canada by the project partners is aimed at gathering examples of best practice in geoenergy projects, such as geological CO2 storage and shale gas extraction.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Pittsburgh works with the US Office of Fossil Energy to produce technological solutions to providing “clean, reliable and affordable energy”.

The SECURe team’s findings will help guide the development of new techniques and best practice for the environmental monitoring of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) and shale gas projects in Europe.

Dr Helen Taylor-Curran of British Geological Survey, who jointly organised the fact-finding visit, said: “We’re grateful to our fellow scientists at NETL for a fascinating tour of their cutting-edge laboratories. It was really interesting to discover that there are a number of projects that overlap with our own work. During the visit, we also discussed opportunities for aligned activities and research, particularly on risk assessment.”

Research synergies with the SECURe project include work on well-bore integrity, including rigorous analysis of cement – which will be used for casing and plugging wellbores in CO2 storage and shale gas projects – under varying geological conditions. The NETL staff are also conducting novel research into downhole chemical sensors, both optical and wireless.

The SECURe team found an interesting parallel with their own work, namely, NETL’s National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP), and the NETL Energy Data Exchange website which mirrors the European Union’s initiative on open access data and transparency.

Photo: Anthony Armaly of NETL (far right) welcomes the SECURe delegation to the NETL laboratories. Credit: NETL