By Justin Swain on Mar 30, 2020
Nearly 30 years ago, I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in chemical engineering. I chose to work in the oil and gas industry because it felt like the heart of chemical engineering. Today, I see this industry uniquely at the center of many of the solutions to one of the biggest challenges facing the world today -- that of climate change, and the need of providing more and cleaner energy solutions.
I have since spent the last 30 years in the industry supporting the development and commercialisation of technologies that help provide more and cleaner energy. My work has primarily been focused on reducing the sulphur content in automotive fuels from refinery complexes and latterly efficient removal of CO2, H2S, and sulphur species in natural gas.
It has been very interesting and exciting to see how industry, governments, and society have collaborated over the last 30 years to significantly reduce harmful emissions such as SO2 from the use of these fuels. Today the focus is very much on reducing CO2 emissions, and rightly so.
Accelerating Efficient Production of Clean Natural Gas
Over 100 years ago, the original driver for crude oil and its refinement was to produce affordable lamp oil. It would enable the masses to extend their day beyond when the sun set.
The impact of affordable fuel changed the quality of life for many and incited the development of the modern world we enjoy today. But back then, no one was fully aware of the consequences the invisible by-product, CO2, would have on our world a hundred years later.
Now, urgently, we need to steer the direction of technology to deal effectively with the climate challenge we face today. It is vitally important that we accelerate the development of emission reduction technology to provide alternative clean energy.
It is also important for us to ensure that the traditional fuels that will still be needed, such as natural gas, are produced as efficiently and with the smallest carbon footprint as possible. Currently, we see natural gas usage increasing significantly and accelerated by countries such as China that are shifting power generation from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas at a massive scale.
Explore: Natural Gas Purification
Optimising Treating Solutions for Gas Reserves
Since the 1960s, Shell has been producing clean natural gas, which has the smallest carbon footprint among traditional fossil fuels. Clean natural gas will remain a critical part of the energy mix throughout the energy transition.
Natural gas reserves contain a number of contaminants that need to be removed before it can be provided to users in the form of clean pipeline gas, or LNG. These contaminants, which are mostly sulphur in the form of H2S and other organic sulphur compounds, as well as CO2, vary widely in concentration across the globe.
As an operator, innovator, and licensor of amine-based gas treating technologies, we have developed complete treating solutions from our experience working with the full range of gas compositions.
We work with operators to optimise the treating solution for a specific gas reserve to ensure that it requires the minimum capex, energy, emissions, and CO2 footprint to bring clean, affordable gas to communities.
Sometimes, more than one type of amine gas treating system is required to clean the gas effectively. Shell’s extensive and unique experience enables us to understand how to further integrate these processes to significantly reduce capex and energy consumption.
Our Sulfinol and ADIP gas treating technology portfolio provides gas producers with an optimal treating solution, while our SCOT ULTRA and Thiopaq technologies enable the effective conversion of the removed H2S to elemental sulphur for further use in sulphuric acid and fertiliser production, two vital commodities. In total, we have designed over 1,200 gas processing units to date.
Access the Whitepaper to Discover How: Sulfinol Can Lower Operating Costs and Resolve Process Issues Such as Foaming
Decreasing CO2 in Flue Gas Through Amine-Based Treating Solutions
Our experience in treating natural gas has enabled us to work with a range of power-intensive industries and help lower CO2 emissions. I like to think that I am contributing my small part to combat climate change by providing customers with amine-based treating solutions.
These solutions remove the harmful CO2 from the flue gas that is emitted directly to the atmosphere from power stations, heavy industry, and oil and chemical facilities.
Our Shell Cansolv technology portfolio can remove the CO2 and SO2 emitted from such plants, achieving up to 99% removal rates and producing pure CO2 and SO2 streams that can be used for industrial purposes, or in the case of CO2, injected back into the ground for permanent storage or enhanced oil recovery.
These technological developments have been enabled through Shell Catalysts & Technology’s drive to collaborate with others in the industry to accelerate learning and improvements. Together, we aspire to impact the energy transition, provide more and cleaner energy solutions, and continue to keep the low voltage lights on where needed.