Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 43

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies

  Following the oral evidence on 20 November 2002, the Committee Chairman requested further information on two specific areas of interest.

1.  SHELL SCHOLARSHIPS

  1.1  Sheall currently provides a small number of MSc and PhD sponsorships in areas associated with our UK businesses, especially in the Earth Sciences.

  1.2  Each year Shell Global Solutions (UK), which has one of the world's leading centres for research and development of oil products at Cheshire Innovation Park, has about 20 students on site for a whole year. Their Fuels and Lubricants division sponsor one or two of the best students every year (£1,500 per annum) for the duration of their academic studies. Currently there are four students on this scheme at various stages of their degree working on different aspects of fuels development.

  1.3  Shell Global Solutions also gets three Industrial Case Awards a year for Postgraduate Students from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Current awards of this type are:

    —  Sheffield University: Fuel effects on Diesel idle stability. Project establishes methodologies for relating vehicle vibration to driver comfort. Currently in third year.

    —  Birmingham University: Fuels for solid oxide fuel cells. Currently in second year.

    —  Cranfield University: Fuel for Lean Premixed Prevaporised (LPP) aeronautic combustors. This emerging combustor technology has substantial environmental benefits. Due to start January 2003.

    —  Cambridge University: Combustion in Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engines. This new type of configuration of engine may enable both large fuel economy and emission reductions issues around the control of the combustion to be resolved. Due to start September 2003.

  None industrial case studentships:

    —  Loughborough University: Selective Removal of Components from Gasoline Using Membrane Technology. Currently in second year.

  1.4  A range of Marie Curie options within the Human Resources and Mobility activity of the EU sixth Framework programme have recently been announced. Several of the host driven initiatives, such as Research Training Networks, Early Stage Training and Transfer of Knowledge, and the individual driven actions, contain attractive features which should help strengthen academia-industry partnerships across Europe. We are currently considering their applicability to R&D themes relevant to our oil product activities and will be giving serious consideration to submitting proposals in 2003.

  1.5  Shell is also currently investigating the development options for a series of annual bursaries for students of specific technical disciplines. These awards would be used to encourage students to study courses such as Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Geology. We hope to be able to launch a pilot scheme soon to test the idea and we are in discussion with academics about how best to target such investments.

  1.6  In 2001 Shell introduced its Campus Ambassadors programme at six leading universities, aimed at strengthening our position in the UK student market in order to increase the attraction of top talent to the company. The programme is designed to raise the profile of Shell on campus, organise and runs events to attract students, be inspiring role models for young people who are thinking about their future career options and to develop good relationships with academics on campus.

2.  THE CO2 CAPTURE PROJECT

  2.1  Energy companies have been investing in alternatives to fossil fuels, but believe that these are unlikely to replace fossil fuels in the short to medium term if the world's ever-increasing energy requirements are to be met at an acceptable cost. Fossil fuels will still be in demand for the foreseeable future and progressive energy companies have recognised that, in supplying fossil fuels, prudent precautionary measures to limit combustion emissions are required now.

  2.2  CO2 capture and geologic storage offer a new set of options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that can complement the current strategies of improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of non-fossil energy resources.

  2.3  The CO2 Capture Project (CCP) is an international effort funded by eight of the world's leading energy companies (list attached). This project intends to address the issue of reducing emissions in a manner that will contribute to an environmentally acceptable and competitively priced continuous energy supply for the world.

  2.4  Three Governments—the US, the EU and Norway—provide matching funding. The CCP issues contracts to (generally third-party) technology providers to perform the development work. Employees from the eight companies serve on CCP technical teams, managing contracts with the technology providers and co-ordinating parts of the programme. Shell plays a very active role on these teams.

  2.5  The CCP will accomplish this by:

    —  Performing benchtop research and development (engineering studies, computer modelling, laboratory experiments) to prove the feasibility of advanced CO2 separation and capture technologies, specifically targeting post-combustion methods, pre-combustion decarbonisation and oxyfuel.

    —  Developing guidelines for maximising safe geologic storage, for measuring and verifying stored volumes and for assessing and mitigating storage risks.

    —  Developing an economic model to establish lifecycle CO2 separation, capture and sequestration costs for current and best technologies to compare alternatives and direct the research and development towards the most promising technologies.

    —  Actively transferring and making available the new technologies to industry via publications, presentations, conferences, an Internet website, patent licenses and commercial services.

  2.6  These technologies will be applicable to a large fraction of CO2 sources around the world—such as power plants and other industrial processes. Implementing these new technologies during this decade will reduce the impact of continued fossil energy use while cleaner energy sources are being developed.

  2.7  In the case of capture, the obstacle to deployment is cost. Conventional technologiy can capture CO2, but the cost is much too high. The contractors work on new technologies to reduce the cost of capturing CO2 from combustion sources such as turbines, heaters and boilers and safely store it underground. This may also involve developing industry standards and suitable regulatory frameworks.

  2.8  Three capture technologies and four storage mechanisms are envisaged:

Capture Technologies

    —  Post-Combustion Scrubbing.

  Considered the first step towards large-scale capture, CO2 is removed from exhaust gas after combustion. This technology can be retrofitted to existing equipment.

    —  Pre-Combustion Decarbonisation (Hydrogen).

  Natural gas is converted to hydrogen and CO2 in a reformer. The CO2 is compressed for storage and the hydrogen is mixed with air for combustion, emitting only nitrogen and water.

    —  Oxyfuel.

  Oxygen is separated from air and then burned with hydrocarbons to produce an exhaust with a high concentration of CO2 for storage.

Geologic Storage

    —  CO2 Stored in Saline Formation.

    —  CO2 Displaces Methane from Coal.

    —  CO2 Stored in Depleted Oil/Gas Reservoir.

    —  CO2 Displaces Trapped Oil (Enhanced Oil Recovery).

  2.9  A distinctive aspect of the CCP is an emphasis on collaboration and partnership with governments, industry, NGOs and other stakeholders. The members of the project recognise that the challenges associated with global climate change require solutions that are economically and socially acceptable to all.

  2.10  The timescale of the CCP programme is April 2000 through December 2003. Shell is providing more than $1.6 million in cash and a comparable amount of staff time. The intention is to follow on with a demonstration project, but we have not completed an agreement for that phase. We estimate commercial deployment in the timeframe 2008 to 2010.

December 2002



 
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