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TEAM project results move Shell Canada Limited to next phase of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) recovery facility

Applied Science students

Four Applied Science students recently consulted with Shell Canada on CO2 capture techniques and its feasibility for the oil sands industry, as their fourth year Technology, Engineering and Management (TEAM) project.

In a dramatic finale, Anirudh Kumar, Janice Nguyen and Philip Lazzari (Chemical Engineering) and Dafu Zhang (Electrical Engineering), with faculty advisors Annette Bergeron, Barrie Jackson, and Dale Dilamarter made their final project presentation to their sponsors at the Scotford Upgrader located in Fort Saskatchewan northeast of Edmonton. The also went on to tour the Shell's Muskeg River Mine oil sands mining operations in Fort McMurray.

"The students working on this project were keen, technically very capable and very well prepared," says industry contact Ronnie Sadorra, Advisor - Climate Change Strategies for Shell Canada's Oil Sands business. "They did a very good job, especially given that most of our contact was by telephone and email due to the distance."

During the 5 month project, the TEAM students addressed two issues:

  • evaluating several different competing technologies for capturing and purifying CO2 from a fuel gas stream at the Scotford Upgrader and

  • comparing on a life-cycle basis the total emissions emitted for the capture, transportation, and sequestration of CO2.

"In the final analysis, the net impact is that for approximately every 5 molecules of CO2 captured, transported and stored, 2 molecule of energy is expended in the process. That means an average efficiency of 55 to 66%," says Mr. Sadorra.

And those statistics are good enough to encourage Shell Canada to continue the technical studies and potentially pursue an investment to build the first Canadian facility to capture CO2 from an oil sands upgrader and sequester it in a geologic reservoir. Presently, this CO2 is emitted to the atmosphere.

"Shell is committed to reducing CO2 emissions and helping Canada meeting its Kyoto targets," says Rob Seeley, General Manager Sustainable Development and Environmental Affairs for Shell Canada. "We plan to move forward from the TEAM project into plans for commercial scale development within months," he adds.

Shell's Athabasca Oil Sands Project, which includes mining activity in Fort McMurray and upgrading facilities in Edmonton, is the only oil refining facility to be built in the past 20 years. It produces 155,000 barrels per day of synthetic crude oil. This represents 10% of all of Canada's fuel demands.

"Among the different projects I have worked with since 1995, this one (CO2 capture) stands out as by far the one with the greatest societal impact," said industry advisor and Dupont Fellow, Keith Marchildon. "I am a firm believer in the fact that CO2 and other greenhouse gases are causing major changes in the planet, with consequences that are not fully understood but that are mostly bad," he adds.

Technology, Engineering and Management (TEAM) is a multidisciplinary project course, which places engineering, commerce and science students from Queen's on industrial consulting projects. This initiative develops links between industry and the university.

TEAM offers industry clients a unique opportunity to gain valuable business insights for a modest investment. TEAM brings together the talents and enthusiasms of Canada's future science, engineering and business leaders to address organizations' challenges.

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