The project goal is to create an inventory of diesel engines, their use, and their emissions during unconventional well development. The first project objective is to analyze the benefits of operating these or similar engines on dual fuel or dedicated natural gas to determine regulated and non-regulated emissions and fuel cost reductions. The next objective is to determine the effects of operating these or similar engines and fugitive methane emissions based on the operation of current technologies using a variety of natural gas compositions. The final objective will be to examine new catalyst formulations that can be used in conjunction with these developing technologies to minimize these new sources of fugitive methane emissions associated with unconventional well development.
West Virginia University (WVU), Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE), Morgantown, WV 26571
Production of unconventional gas wells demands a significant cost in diesel fuel used to power extraction equipment. The industry is moving toward substituting domestic natural gas for diesel fuel in order to reduce operating costs. Ideally, local wellhead gas would be utilized, but this solution is undermined by engine control and emissions problems in the near term. In addition, pending and future greenhouse gas emission regulations, which include methane emissions, have the potential to slow this change.
Dual fuel retrofit strategies will be implemented in the near term to reduce the risk to unconventional gas producers; however, the strategies will evolve to include dedicated stoichiometric natural gas engines in the long term to realize the greater cost benefit of utilizing domestic natural gas. Switching from diesel to dual fuel or dedicated natural gas engines also has the potential to reduce local and regional emissions inventory loading to the atmosphere from these sites.
CAFEE will collaborate with its project partners to assess fugitive methane emissions when utilizing domestic natural gas for the prime movers and transportation at unconventional gas drilling sites. Specifically, CAFEE will identify and characterize the impacts of fugitive methane emissions using dual fuel (natural gas and diesel) and dedicated natural gas engines as replacements for the diesel-powered units that currently dominate unconventional well site operations. This effort will include assessing fugitive methane emissions at unconventional well site locations, as well as for the on-site supply pipeline, compression systems, storage tanks, engine fuel lines, crank case vents, and unburned fuel in the exhaust. This effort will provide industry with data, assessment, conclusions, and strategies for mitigating fugitive methane emissions through the utilization of natural gas for the prime movers and transportation used in unconventional gas production.
The successful completion of this project will provide the natural gas industry with information needed to implement low-cost, robust technologies that will promote production and utilization of U.S. energy resources while simultaneously mitigating risk to the public, oil and gas personnel, and the environment.
WVU has obtained an additional 9 month no-cost extension to continue research defined in Phase 2 of this award. WVU obtained additional funding necessary to collect additional in-use data from drilling activities (total of six field campaigns) while maintaining all portions of Phase 2 – including research on the effects of fuel quality on dual fuel conversion kits and dedicated natural gas engines. WVU researchers continue to make progress working with catalyst manufacturer CATCO in the development of a methane oxidation catalyst for laboratory testing to reduce methane emissions from dual fuel or dedicated natural gas engines.
Note: The original DOE contribution for this project was $1,499,830 with WVU contribution of $410,813. Modified budget in June, 2016 by $328,807 (DOE contribution), with an additional $104,097 contributed by WVU.