GERMAN industrial gas engineering company Linde Gases has developed a mobile gas cleanup unit (MGCU) to remove up to 98% of CO2 from flowback natural gas from fracking systems.
The MGCU uses proprietary membrane technology to separate the gas mixture. The inert CO2 gas cannot pass through the membrane barrier and is collected within the unit.
Fracturing techniques often yield trace amounts of CO2 in the natural gas, however when a well is fractured with energised fluids containing CO2 to boost recovery, the early flowback gas can exceed pipeline capacity and is often flared. Cleaning the CO2 from the system and storing it, will reduce the need for flaring and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fracking wells.
Reducing emissions from gas flaring has become a priority for companies and governments. The World Bank introduced a Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative in April 2015, which was recently endorsed by the US government.
Currently 49bn t/y of natural gas is flared globally, resulting in 300m t of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere. The US is the largest natural gas producer from fracking, and the scale of flaring in the US was highlighted by a picture taken by NASA in 2014.
Robin Watts, programme manager at Linde North America said “Our mobile gas cleanup unit scrubs CO2 so producers can monetise early flowback natural gas while minimising flaring and greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Mortimer Exploration Co has been testing a prototype MGCU for over a month at one of its new wells in South Texas.
Glenn Mortimer, president of Mortimer Exploration, said, “Without the mobile gas cleanup unit, we would have incurred significant additional costs with alternative solutions.”
The MGCU can be mounted onto an industrial vehicle trailer (pictured) and deployed in remote regions. Linde expects to deploy units to its own wells, and sell units to other fracturing companies.
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