Enhanced Oil Recovery with CO2 is an important market, but sometimes there is a problem with securing CO2 supplies. Welcome to an interview with Gerald Blount, whose company has a new CO2 EOR solution. Gerald participated in AAPG’s U-Pitch at URTeC, which promotes and helps commercialize innovations and new technologies.
What is your name and your background?
My name is Gerald C. Blount, my company name is Partnering in Innovation, Inc. I am a geologist, inventor, and the CTO of this micro-startup. I love geology, but I also have a knack for solving problems, and inventing. I tend to merge my knowledge of geology, hydrogeology, and engineering and technology into new solutions to complex problems.
I started out as a geologist and learned from others to be a mining engineer and have some knowledge of mineral processing. In an economic down turn for geologists I became a technical salesman of industrial minerals; this truly opened my eyes. Then I got into hydrogeology and environmental cleanup. I retired from the Savannah River Site after over 25 years in cleanup of the nuclear weapons complex.
What is your product and/or your process?
Our process is low cost post combustion aqueous CO2 capture from flue gas to support enhanced oil recovery (EOR). EOR with CO2 is an underserved market with a very large potential market.
How is your product or process innovative, even potentially game-changing?
The process uses water as the physical solvent for capture. Any make-up water needed after initial fill is acquired from the condensed water vapor in the flue gas; no chemicals to buy or degraded chemical waste. The process is also less than half the cost of the current best available technology (advanced amines) for a greater than 95% product compressed to 150 bar (pipeline ready). The cost of a pipeline ready CO2 product with the Pi-CO2 process is less than the revised 45Q tax credit for EOR (~$35/metric ton).
What made you recognize that there was a need for the product or process?
There is a shortage of CO2
for EOR, and there is a need to capture CO2
from fossil and non-fossil sources for safe geologic storage or permanent beneficial use, to support likely future worldwide climate change goals.
Please describe an early example of implementation or product development.
We have performed extensive process modeling of the process (Aspen and custom models). Process modeling has been vetted by knowledgeable industry experts. This includes an independent techno-economical analysis by a large engineering group that yielded the current cost estimates.
Please describe a more recent example of implementation or product development.
A major innovation of the process is the novel mass transfer absorber/desorber pair (patented) that is housed in a moderately shallow well filled with water. A prototype of the absorber was built in the USA and shipped to France for confirmation testing at BRGM. The prototype functions as expected with no moving parts.
What were some of the lessons learned?
It takes a long time and a lot of money to develop a patented innovative post combustion CO2 capture process. We have been working through the development process for almost 10 years.
What are your next steps and short-term goals? What do you want to do next with the product or process?
Our next step is to find funding to fabricate and test the absorber/desorber pair in a well with mixed gases that would mimic various flue gases. The short term goal is to construct and test the absorber/desorber pair. All studies suggest that the process will operate as proposed; performing this work would eliminate uncertainty.
What are your long-term goals?
To build a pilot scale post combustion aqueous CO2 capture process to support EOR and safe geologic storage.
Please recommend a few books that you found inspiring.
These books are what I recall to be of interest as a young person. Perhaps they inspired me.
Alfred Nobel. The Man and his Work, authorized by the Nobel Foundation and published by Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd., Edinburgh, 1962; I read this when I was about 12 years old.
Louis Pasteur, Free Lance of Science, Rene J. Dubos, Little, Brown, 1950 (Pasteur, Louis, 1822-1895); I read this when I was about 12 years old.
The Scientific American book of projects for the amateur scientist, 1960, by Clair L Stong. I loved this book; I tried to build an X-ray machine with it at about age 14.
The Accent of Man, Jacob Bronowski, 1973.
What did you find valuable about U-Pitch?
It was an opportunity to give another pitch, and perhaps find another investor.