Successful carbon abatement technologies and projects on the agenda of international conference

Scientists, researchers, representatives of the Brazilian government, regulatory and petroleum agencies to meet at Sustainable Gas Research Innovation, with a focus on natural gas exploration

“Transforming gas to transform the future” is the theme of the third edition of Sustainable Gas Research and Innovation (SGRI) conference, which takes place on September 25 and 26, in São Paulo. This annual meeting is organized and promoted by the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), in conjunction with Sustainable Gas Innovation (SGI), connected with the Imperial College London. The two institutions are partners in research projects that seek technologies that a capable of optimizing the role of natural gas within the world’s energy panorama, and they have a special interest in such subjects as carbon capture and abatement, the transformation of CO2 into value-added products, the regulation of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) initiatives, and others.

The event will have lectures by seven keynote speakers, including representatives of Petrobras, Shell, the Center for Energy and Environmental Resources of the University of Texas, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Brazilian Company for Research and Industrial Innovation (EMBRAPII), and Brazil’s National Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels Agency (ANP).

They will talk about successful technologies and initiatives for carbon abatement in projects that involve companies and governments; methane emissions; regulatory measures; investments expected in Brazil’s natural gas; and the efforts of Petrobras to minimize the emissions of its production processes. Presentations take place in the plenary sessions, in the opening morning sessions and in the afternoons of the two-day event.

There will also be parallel and sequential sessions in which scientists from the two institutions will present the results of their studies. Some 30 researchers sent their work, in advance, to be selected for presentation within the scope of eight overall subjects: laws, regulations, and policies; utilization and decarbonization of CO2; CO2 capture; infrastructure and general knowledge regarding CO2; storage and monitoring; methane emissions; new uses for natural gas; and natural gas infrastructure.

Oral presentations take place in three parallel sessions, in the morning and the afternoon. Two poster sessions will be presented on TV screens spread throughout the foyer, outside the auditorium. The event will close with a panel discussion by five of the speakers. Eleven SCI scientists are expected to be in attendance. On the Brazilian side, the organizers are counting on the presence of the RCGI’s 250 researchers.

The opening session of the event will be attended by officials from the University of São Paulo (USP), the São Paulo Foundation for Research Funding (FAPESP), and the government of the State of São Paulo, as well as executives of Shell, the RCGI’s Scientific Director, Júlio Meneghini, and the SGI’s Deputy Director, Adam Hawkes.

More information and the schedule can be found at the site:

Information: The III Sustainable Gas Research Innovation (SGRI) conference will take place on September 25 and 26, in the CDI/USP Auditorium (Av. Prof. Lúcio Martins Rodrigues, 310, Cidade Universitária, Butantã, São Paulo).

RCGI stresses the contribution of its projects to the development goals of the sustainable development

CCS, one of the studies being made by the RCGI, could contribute to a 14% reduction of energy-related emissions by 2050, according to the IEA.


At the V Internal Workshop of the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), scientists involved with the 45 projects on the Center’s portfolio discussed ideas, identified new possibilities for interaction between the projects, and discussed the intersection of the objectives of the institution’s activities with the 17 development goals for which were established by the United Nations, in 2015. The event took place in the Auditorium of the Institute for Energy and the Environment of the University of São Paulo (IEE/USP), in the city of São Paulo, on August 21 and 22.

[custom_blockquote style=”green”] “Universities know that they can contribute to the goals, and vice-versa. There is an emphasis on developing indicators that take into account how we are evolving. The 17 UN goals present 169 already-accepted indicators. And the technological path to be taken by carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is one of the main focuses of study of the RCGI, directly affects goals 7 and 13 that deal with energy and combatting climate change,” noted engineer Oscar Serrate in one of the lectures presented during the meeting. Based on data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), he stated that CCS could contribute to a 14% reduction in energy-related emissions by 2050. [/custom_blockquote]

Oscar Serrate

[custom_blockquote style=”green”] “We are more than 200 researchers at RCGI and we know that we must make a difference. Most of our projects contribute directly to solutions for reducing and mitigating emissions, within a context where the world needs these answers,” stated the Centre’s Scientific Director Júlio Meneghini. He recalled the recent trucker’s strike as an example of the importance of studying the share of natural gas and other sources in Brazil’s transportation energy matrix. “If natural gas were a more expressive part of the transportation energy matrix, the trucker’s strike would not have happened.” [/custom_blockquote]

The interaction between the various projects of the institution’s portfolio continues to be one of the objectives of the Workshop, which takes place twice a year. “It is an opportunity for interaction and synergy. We have striven to bring together the best thinkers in both scientific and motivational terms, as well,” Meneghini said at the beginning of the meeting. Leadership and Human Resource Manager Karen Mascarenhas highlighted the policy for attracting foreign researchers, which has already brought scientists to the RCGI from different countries, including Iran, Colombia, and Nigeria. And she noted the RCGI’s recent participation in a meeting organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States.

Unlike previous events, when the order of the presentations was done by drawing names, or without and thematic grouping, this Workshop was divided into ten overarching subjects, which facilitated the presentation of the work, making the event more effective. Several partial results were presented, including preliminary publications and data arising from experiments and research done by around 250 researchers of the RCGI.

The projects developed by the RCGI over its two-and-one-half years of work have already resulted in over 60 scientific publications and nearly 50 presentations in related conferences and events, as well as the granting of three patents. According to Meneghini, the contribution of the RCGI’s projects to the development objectives of the millennium should be a part of the reports of activities of the teams from this time forward.

Trend – Besides CCS, one of the solutions accepted by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by the European Parliament, and by scientists, worldwide, as being crucial to combatting climate change, Carbon Capture Utilization (CCU) is also the focus of several RCGI projects. One of them is Project 30, whose objective is to obtain value-added products from the hydrogenation of do CO2. Project 31, dealing with removing CO2 from the atmosphere through a cell photocatalysis and transforming it into a useful organic product for industry. And Project 32, having already listed more than 140 products based on CO2, will likely focus its efforts on those that the Brazilian market must import, but can be obtained here, like methanol, urea, ascetic acid, formic acid, and others.

Second RCGILex workshop to be held a week from Friday

Event to focus on legal aspects of the commercialization of Natural Gas, the use of the tool that compiles the norms of the sector, and the launch of a new site.

The Second RCGILex Workshop will be held on Friday, June 8, at 1:00 p.m. (register here). This tool compiles the Federal and State laws regarding Natural Gas (GN). The initiative seeks to promote a discussion of the main subjects and current regulatory situation of the sector, make users familiar with the tool, and announce the recently created RCGILex site, which complements the aggregate contents of the legal repository documents.

The event will be held at the headquarters of the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), in the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli/USP), in the State’s capital city, and will be attended by 16 participants. Shell’s Technical Scientific Coordinator in the RCGI, Alexandre Breda, will take part via Skype.

Aspects connected with the commercialization of GN, as found in the Natural Gas Law, will be analyzed within the scope of the “Gas for Growth” initiative of the Substitution Bill PL6407/2013 (which modifies the Natural Gas Law). This event is organized by Professor Hirdan Katarina de Medeiros Costa, Coordinator of RCGI Project Number 21, who also organized the RCGILex.

“The workshops have been held since the month of May and will continue until November. One of the purposes is to familiarize the group of collaborators in Project 21 with the RCGILex tool, which was created to be an annotated repository of Brazilian and São Paulo State legislation regarding natural gas,” Hirdan said.

RCGI focuses on reducing GHG emissions

In its fourth internal workshop, the research center headquartered in Poli-USP shows its calling for studying the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be the main focus of the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) going forward. The change in direction was announced by the Centre’s Scientific Director, Júlio Meneghini, during the IV Internal Workshop of the RCGI, which took place March 9 and 10. “We made a series of visits to the best universities abroad, in the area of the abatement and reduction of GHG emissions and found that we have much to contribute to this subject,” Meneghini reported.

The RCGI has 45 research projects, divided into four programs:  Engineering; Physicochemical; Energy and Economic Policies; and CO2 Abatement – this last program was launched in the second half of 2017. The new research focus will demand more joint efforts for strategic planning on the part of the Directors of the other three programs. But, according to Meneghini, the RCGI is prepared to take on this challenge.

“One of the advantages of the Centre, from its inception, was the adoption of a blended structure of involvement and management, which is not as rigid as that of corporations, neither as complex as in academic circles. In a structure like ours, information flows more easily, and is not held back. Therefore, we are able to maximize the exchange of information among researchers,” he states.

According to Alexandre Breda, Technical-Scientific Coordinator of Shell at the RCGI, the world currently emits 35 Gtons per year of CO2. “In order to fulfill the commitments stipulated at COP 21, in Paris, in 2015, it is estimated that our maximum worldwide emissions budget is 1 trillion tons CO2. But we have already emitted, up to today, 620 billion tons. There are calculations showing that in 2036 we will achieve our budget”, says Breda, mentioning numbers from a website named, that accounts the world emissions in real time.

Breda revealed that Shell as make a commitment to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2050.

“Today, Shell’s energy intensity is 84g of CO2 per megajoule, while the worldwide average is 70g of CO2 per megajoule. We want to be closer to the world average, so we stipulated this ambitious goal be reached by 2050. It was well received by society, in general, but it brings immense pressure to bear on our operations.”

The Director of the CO2 Abatement Programme, Kazuo Nishimoto, remembered that, despite being heavily called out by society, in general, the oil companies are directly responsible for only 6% of the global emissions of CO2. “The debate regarding how to reduce GHG emissions associated with climate change, focus primarily on oil and gas companies. The companies are under constant pressure from regulations and for their reputation to reduce CO2 emissions both upstream and downstream, and will be increasingly more challenged, in the coming years, to provide solutions and to make investments.”

Nishimoto feels that the emphasis on oil companies because, when they are added to these 6% CO2 emissions of the end users of the products they sell (transportation, heating, and power generation, for example), the petroleum and gas sector is responsible for nearly half of global emissions.

In his opinion, the investment in reducing emissions should be seen as an opportunity.

“There are R&D investments from the petroleum and gas produced in Brazil, and there is a high level of greenhouse gases in all of the pre-salt reservoirs. Furthermore, the knowledge and the technologies generated from natural gas production systems can be used in technologies for reducing CO2 emissions.”

The RCGI, which is headquartered in the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli-USP), now has more than 200 researchers working together to resolve technological and public policy problems of the petroleum and natural gas sector. It has its own headquarters, a lean administrative structure, and it deals with real problems, brought to it by Shell and by collaborators who are dedicated to the subject. “For all these reasons, the RCGI was mentioned in the platform of the new, recently elected Poli-USP board as an example to be followed by other departments of the Polytechnic School and even by other USP units,” Julio Meneghini stated.

Layers of coal, underwater salt caves, and depleted oil reservoirs are options for storing CO2

Experts meeting for two days in an event organized by the IEE and RCGI discussed economic viability, regulations, and CCS technologies

A variety of technologies for storing carbon were presented during the workshop on Technologies for Capturing, Storing, and Utilizing CO2 in Different Formations, which was held on November 16 and 17 in USP’s Energy and Environment Institute (IEE/USP). The event was organized by the IEE and by the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) and had speakers from the IEE, USP’s Polytechnic School, UNICAMP, USP’s Physics Institute, and Portugal’s Fernando Pessoa University (UFP). On the first day, ten speakers made presentations. The second day was occupied by a minicourse given by UFP Professor Cristina Rodrigues.

The event opened with a quick presentation of the RCGI’s 15 new projects for CO2 abatement, by Professor Kazuo Nishimoto, who focused on Project 34, regarding the construction of salt caves – to which, in some way, all of the others related – and by Felipe Rugegre, who presented an overview of Projects 30 to 45.

Then, Professor Edmilson Moutinho spoke about Policies and Economic Perspectives of Carbon Capture, Storage and Utilization (CCUS). He emphasized that, despite the large number of publications covering the subject in recent years, doubts continue regarding the classification and identification of technologies, applications, assessing the potential for capturing, cost assessment and other core subjects. According to him, the risks are very important to the decision-making process. “Investors could favor an option with higher costs, if they feel that it implies lower risks.”

[custom_blockquote style=”green”] Moutinho listed several reasons for supporting CCS initiatives in Brazil, including enormous short and medium-term pressures coming from pre-salt. “Avoiding burning is a strategic need for sustainable pre-salt. As for reinjections, we must remember that today’s reinjections will become the production growth of CO2 tomorrow.” Among the difficulties, he mentions that the Brazilian government will still need a lot of time to commit to CCS, and that it will take years to convince the treasury to sponsor demonstration projects. “Actually, we are mired in the historic debate that opposes petroleum and cleaner natural gas against the utilization of more renewable energy sources, and that debate goes back to the decade of the 1990s.” [/custom_blockquote]

Professor Gabriel Costa Lima, of UNICAMP, called attention to the discrepancy between the minimum and maximum costs for capturing, storing, and recompressing CO2. “Capture and storage are distinct activities with distinctive costs. Back in 2004, CCS still presented a significant 30% risk to investors. The differences between the minimum and maximum values of each stage of the process were enormous, which was one more reason for the insecure feeling of those who wanted to become involved in the enterprise. Today, this should have changed a little. But what does not, and will not, change is the fact that the final decision always involves economics. If it is economically viable to do CCS, then it will work. If not, it won’t work,” he said.

Shale and salt caves – The perspectives for storing carbon in non-conventional onshore petroleum reservoirs and in sedimentary offshore basins were among the subjects dealt with during the event. This subject is the object of RCGI’s Project 36, which will study these possibilities in Southeast Brazil. “The objective is to assess the geological viability of implementing technologies for storing carbon in these reservoirs and to develop a multi-scaled model for storing CO2 in the shale of the Bacia do Paraná, combined with the simultaneous stimulation of non-conventional gas,” summarized Professor Colombo Tassinari, coordinator of the Project and an IEE researcher. “But everything will be done with models, because we cannot legally do tests in loco, on a real reservoir.”

Another possibility for storage are deepwater salt caves. In his presentation, Engineer Pedro Maia da Costa remembered that various liquids and substances are injected in geological deposits all over the world. “The technology for salt caves has already been developed and applied to the underground storage of petroleum, natural gas, and compressed air. The largest inventory of U.S. petroleum and natural gas is in a salt cave with a ceiling higher than the Eiffel Tower. Also, there are manuals of best practices for building and monitoring those caves.”

According to him, in the case of CO2, with regard to the stability of the cave, the big question would be the increased pressure after the cave is abandoned. “This is because, with the passage of time, the salt cave deforms and its volume is reduced. A cave filled with CO2 and in a supercritical state will gradually close down, reducing its volume until the interior pressure equals the external stress in the salt bed.”

Maia further stated that it is not just any type of rock that can be used for storage and that construction is slow and costly. “But, considering the reality of the pre-salt region, the construction of caves would be viable. The coast of the State of Espírito Santo is a perfect place for storing carbon in salt caves.”

Coal – Geologist Cristina Rodrigues, Professor at Fernando Pessoa University, who was invited to the event, spoke about storing CO2 between layers of coal. According to her, the injection of CO2 could improve the production of methane from coal. She began by showing the differences between conventional (deepwater saline aquifers and depleted oil and gas reservoirs) and non-conventional (layers of coal and shale gas) reservoirs and stated that the circulation and storage performance varies between them. This is because the performance of the reservoir depends on static and dynamic components.

[custom_blockquote style=”green”] “In conventional reservoirs, the fluids are dispersed homogeneously in the pore structures, depending on their concentrations. And those fluids circulate in a specific direction, which depends on the pressure gradient and its viscosity,” she explained. “However, in the non-conventional reservoirs, the fluids are heterogeneously dispersed in the pore structures. The molecules of the fluids attach to the walls of the pores, due to a high level of affinity with the organic structure of the reservoir. In these cases, the flow of the fluid depends on the pressure gradient of the different components present in its mixture and on its interactions with the organic structure of the reservoir, as well as the effects of the organic property of pore shrinkage and swelling.”[/custom_blockquote]

Cristina demonstrated how the injection of CO2 in coal can also be used to recover methane from a coal layer. “This is done in three phases: first, CO2 is captured from a gas source, then it is compressed and injected into the coal for methane recovery or storage.” In one of the previous lectures, regarding the utilization of CO2 to improve the recovery of petroleum in oil wells, physicist James de Almeida raised a similar possibility. “CO2 is the best candidate for reinjection in oil wells, in order to recover trapped oil. It would necessary to know if the CO2 could remain there, in storage.”

As Cristina sees it, coal is the most efficient form of keeping CO2 stored for a significant geological time. “The best solution, in terms of security, is coal. The bond between CO2 and the organic structure is excellent. It is the adsorption process that causes CO2 to stick to the coal structure, physically attached to it, as long as sufficient pressure is maintained.”

The only increasingly consumed fossil fuel in the world is natural gas

Most of the gas emissions come from the burning of CO2; RCGI pursues technologies for pre-salt that can help avoid GHG emissions.

Natural gas consumption has been growing worldwide, in both developed and underdeveloped countries, with the latter having natural gas as the only fossil fuel that is growing. This was emphasized by the participants in the Sustainable Gas Research & Innovation Conference 2017. In the world’s energy matrix, only two categories show a tendency for growth: natural gas and renewable energy sources. A common opinion heard among the participants is that there is no single solution for the dilemma of “demand for energy vs. GHG emissions”. It is necessary to look to a myriad of technologies and trends, which range from biofuels to carbon capture and storage (CCS). The event took place on September 19 and 20, at the University of São Paulo (USP), in São Paulo.

“Estimates indicate that natural gas will be significantly important. Therefore, it is necessary to study new technologies and adapt them to the needs,” said José Goldemberg, President of the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP) and first keynote speaker of the conference, organized by the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) and by the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI), headquartered in the United Kingdom. He pointed out that it is common to fear adopting new technologies, because they are more expensive, to start with, but he remembered the case of ethanol. “The price of ethanol dropped from US$ 550 per cubic meter, in 1980, to US$ 200, in 2004.”

Brazil will likely enter the decade of 2020 with a growing production of natural gas, due to pre-salt. Among the fossil fuels, natural gas emits the least GHG. For that reason, it is regarded as an important transition fuel to a low carbon economy. However, all of the experts agree that it is necessary to create a market, make transport and commercialization feasible, and create a culture for the utilization of natural gas throughout the country. Exportation is only a remote idea and there is a consensus that it is needful to take advantage of this energy source here, instead of reinjecting it into the oil wells, as is being done. “Brazil reinjects underground the equivalent of 5% of the North American production of shale gas,” said Júlio Meneghini, RCGI’s Scientific Director.

Besides lowering emissions, it will be necessary to mitigate them. In the specific case of pre-salt gas, which is rich in CO2, it is also necessary to make it cleaner, purifying it for utilization, which requires technologies for separating and storing CO2 – that could also be of great importance to decarbonization initiatives. Rob Littel, from Shell, emphasized the company’s focus on decarbonization strategies and on CCS. “The challenge of emissions is an existential one for a company like Shell. The amount of CO2 that we have to capture is on the order of Gigatons.”

According to him, the change will have to affect all sectors of the economy. “Power generation and the construction industry are the easiest sectors to decarbonize. Transportation and industry in general are more complicated.” Littel also pointed out what he called the “dilemma” of the carbon market. “The climate problem is real, but it is still cheap to cause emissions. Carbon credits are bought at very low prices on the market.”

Meneghini believes that the use of fossil fuels can still string along for a relatively extensive time period. “We will have fossil fuels for a long time, yet. We need to do CCS and, in the case of natural gas, it is important to separate CO2 from CH4.” He mentioned that the RCGI is working on two projects for separating these gases: a supersonic separator and a ceramic membrane.

Paul Balcombe, a researcher associated with the SGI who spoke about super emitters of methane, emphasized that most of the natural gas emissions come from the burning of CO2. “Methane emissions are extremely variable, because they depend on many factors, including the super emitters: these represent 5% of the equipment, but answer for 50% of the total methane emissions.”

Policies – The dynamics of the event interspersed oral presentations by researchers of the two institutions, guided by a chairman, and presentations with digital posters outside of the auditorium. On the first day, the RCGI presented the projects of the Energy and Economy Policies Program. “All of the projects of this program focus on helping the State to create a market for natural gas in Brazil, because we do not currently have one,” said Edmilson Moutinho, Program Coordinator and Professor at USP’s Energy and Environment Institute (IEE/USP). “But we can help Shell in its demand for CO2 abatement, contributing to addressing challenges both in the CCS area and from other different perspectives.”

At the end of the day, a panel discussion brought together the experts Adam Hawkes (SGI Deputy Director), David Daniels (Chief Energy Modeler for the U.S. Energy Information Administration), Li Zheng (Professor in the Thermal Energy Department of Tsinghua University), and Júlio Meneghini, Scientific Director of the RCGI, and invited participants Plínio Nastari (of the National Council of Energy Policies) and Álvaro Prata (of the Department of Technology, Development, and Innovation of MCTI).

“The biggest challenge to the expansion of natural gas in Brazil is not the technology. It is our ability to resolve the fiscal policies and fiscal legislation,” Nastari stated. He also called attention to Brazil’s potential for producing and utilizing biomethane. “Our production potential of biomethane is estimated to be between 71 and 77 million cubic meters, five of which come from urban municipal garbage. Biomethane could be the solution for regions where energy is still very expensive, like the North region, for example.”

David Daniels, from EIA, also stressed the importance of policies and of following up on them. “Policies are not just a government thing. They are a society, a business thing…. They are a development process based on the information we have at hand and on the objectives we plan on achieving. And, once they are implemented, they must be monitored.”

Prata emphasized R&D financing in Brazil. “The percentage of the GDP that we allocate for Research and Development – which is 1.2% – must increase. It is interesting to note that public investments in research represent 0.7% of the GDP, which is very close to what the public sector invests in Korea for the same item: 0.9%. But, here, this is not enough to attract the private sector to invest in research. It would be very welcome.”

Besides researchers from the two institutes and decision makers, on the first day of the conference, participants also included the Secretary of Mining and Energy of the State of São Paulo, João Carlos de Souza Meirelles; the Vice Chancellor of the University of São Paulo (USP), Vahan Agopyan; and the Provost for Research of USP, José Eduardo Krieger.

Scenarios – The second day began with David Daniels and Li Zheng, Professor of the Department of Thermal Energy of Tsinghua University, as keynote speakers. Daniels presented data from International Energy Outlook 2017, which is an annual publication of the EIA, with projections of future scenarios regarding the impacts of implementing policies in the energy area. “It is not our intention to predict what will happen, but to give some idea of what could happen if the policies that are being generated to ensure the production of energy and, at the same time reduce emissions, are put into practice.”

The report is based on the presupposition of worldwide energy consumption on the order of 575 quadrillion BTUs in 2015 going to 736 quadrillion BTUs in 2040, for an increase of 28%. “More than 60% of the increased energy consumption around the year 2040 will come from countries that are not a part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), especially from Asia, including China and India. Even if the residential demand and the transportation sector grow more quickly, the industrial sector will still be responsible for more than 50% of the energy consumption in 2040.”

Daniels says he sees no clear transition in the transportation sector, with the adoption of electric vehicles. “People move by following policies. While there are no clear incentive policies for adopting electric cars, we believe that there will be no big impact. Our projections show that, in 2050, only 20% of the fleet will be electric-powered.”

Zheng Li, once again, stated that natural gas plays a crucial role in China, substituting coal. According to him, the plan is to increase the share of natural gas in the Chinese energy matrix from the current 5.9% to 15% by 2030.

“China has made great progress in the transition to a low-carbon energy source. Over the past five years, the installed capacity of solar energy increased 20 times, and nuclear and wind nearly three times. In 2015, energy generated by non-fossil sources came to 27%. The non-fossil sources in the composition of total primary energy came to 11.8%. We what it to go to 15% in 2020 and 20% in 2030. However, coal is still dominant and critical for transition.”

He says that the country did a big job generating power with coal. “Our coal-powered thermal-electric plants are the world’s most efficient. But much of our coal is used in industry and residences, and there, there are much higher emissions.” Li says that it is a big challenge to approve, it is a big challenge to provide clean energy to the rural Chinese population, which is convenient and low-carbon. “Inside the rural areas, people use much coal, above all for cooking, and there are places where it is not viable to place pipelines. In those places, I think that biogas could play an important role.”

Then, Professor Rita M.B. Alves, vice-coordinator of RCGI’s Physicochemistry Program, made a brief presentation of the projects in her program. After lunch, the SGI made three more presentations. It was the turn of Kris Anderson, Velisa Vesovic, and Cristiano Borges, SGI researchers and members of SGI’s Department of Sciences, and members of the Department of Earth Sciences and Engineering of the Imperial College.

“Approximately 85% do world’s energy supply is furnished by fossil fuel for warming motors. About 60% of that energy is lost as heat during the process of generating energy. Since the annual total consumption of energy from fossil fuels is 486 exajoules, that means that there are about 320 exajoules of available residual heat,” Anderson said, and presented a techno-economic analysis of thermal-electric generators for heat recovery. He explained it via a series of case studies that are being done to recover the energy that is wasted in the form of heat.

The projects of the Engineering Program, which had Professor Emílio Silva as its Chairman, took up the rest of the afternoon. At the end of the day, Sara Giarola, one of the coordinators of the SGI modelling team; Daniel Crow, also on the SGI modelling team; Sara Budinis, chemical engineer and an SGI researcher; Ivan Garcia Kerdan, SGI assistant researcher and from the Chemical Engineering Department of the Imperial College talked about MUSE (Modular Energy System Simulation Environment). “This is a tool that gives a global perspective of opportunities and challenges for the energy industry, in which 28 regions are included, representing the world,” Giarola said in summary.

RCGI and SGI hold the second edition of the Sustainable Gas Research & Innovation Conference

Importance and uses of natural gas as an energy source have been growing; event at USP discusses possibilities and challenges for natural gas in a world that wants to reduce emissions

Brazilian and foreign experts meet at Sustainable Gas Research & Innovation Conference 2017, September 19 and 20, in São Paulo, to discuss the future of natural gas and to share the development of innovative technologies for making its utilization feasible, within a global scenario of expectation, in terms of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The event, organized by the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), of Brazil, and by the Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI), of England, is in its second edition and will be held in the auditorium of USP’s International Performing Arts Center (CDI).

Besides researchers from the two institutes, others participating in the conference were the Secretary of Mining and Energy of the State of São Paulo, João Carlos de Souza Meirelles; the President of the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP), José Goldemberg; the Vice-Chancellor of the University of São Paulo (USP), Vahan Agopyan; USP’s Research Provost USP, José Eduardo Krieger; Shell’s Director of Natural Gas Separation, Rob Littel; and Plínio Nastari, member of the National Council of Energy Policies.

The opening of the event will be led by the Director or Publicity and Communication of RCGI, Gustavo Assi, followed by the Vice-Director of SGI, Adam Hawkes, and the Scientific Director of RCGI, Júlio Meneghini. After that, the invited guests, already mentioned above, will speak.

Representing the Imperial College London, where the Sustainable Gas Institute is headquartered, will be Kris Anderson, Velisa Vesovic, and Cristiano Borges, SGI researchers and members of the Earth Sciences and Engineering Department of the Imperial College; Jamie Speirs, who will present the recent white paper A Greener Gas Grid: What are the Options?; Paul Balcombe, an associate researcher of the SGI connected to the Department of Chemical Engineering of the Imperial College; Sara Giarola, one of the coordinators of the modeling team of SGI; Daniel Crow, also of the SGI modeling team; Sara Budinis, SGI chemical engineer and researcher; Ivan Garcia Kerdan, SGI assistant researcher and from the Chemical Engineering Department of the Imperial College; David Daniel, Chief Energy Modeler of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA); and Li Zheng, Professor of the Thermal Energy Department of Tsinghua University.

Representing the RCGI, all of the members of the Board of Directors and all of the project coordinators with their respective teams will be in attendance. However, the format of the event has a few changes with from last year’s event. Half of the 29 RCGI projects will be presented orally and the other half will be presented in poster sessions, for which the presenters will use five TV monitors strategically located in the lobby of the amphitheater. The coordinators of the programs had the responsibility of selecting the projects presented in each modality. The oral presentations will last for 15 minutes, with additional 5 minutes for questions from the audience. The poster presentations will last 10 minutes.

[custom_blockquote style=”green”] “Natural gas represents, at one and the same time, both an immense challenge and an incredible opportunity for Brazil, keeping in mind the expectation that Brazilian production will grow when the pre-salt exploration goes into operation. Our challenges include a whole range of things from technology through storage of the resource – not only as an energy source, but as a raw material for obtaining other resources whose technologies for utilization are still being developed – to the infrastructure for their dissemination, while building demand in the face the lack of a culture for using natural gas in Brazil,” Julio Meneghini sums up.[/custom_blockquote]

However, he points out that the RCGI sustains projects that cover a wide range of the technological, merchandising, logistical, and cultural challenges that involve the use of natural gas, biomethane, and hydrogen, as well as ways of mitigating emissions of CO2 and other gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect in Brazil and around the world. And he reminds of the insertion of 16 additional projects to the RCGI portfolio, in a new program dedicated to issues that involve reducing CO2 emissions, including CCS technologies and their environmental impacts, methods for separating gases, and other initiatives. “With this fourth program, another one hundred researchers will join the current 150 at RCGI.”

According to Meneghini, the Conference is a unique initiative that makes it possible for the two institutions and their researchers to share their knowledge, exchange ideas, gain insights, and present necessary data for fully understanding the role of natural gas in the global energy scenario.


The Sustainable Gas Research & Innovation Conference 2017 will take place in USP’s CDI Auditorium (Av. Prof. Lúcio Martins Rodrigues, 222 – Cidade Universitária – São Paulo). On Sept. 19, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on Sept. 20, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. See the complete schedule at:

Workshop for Brazilian and Danish biogas experts

Organized by RCGI, the event discusses policies, production, and applications of biogas in both countries

This Thursday, August 24, the workshop “Dialogues between Brazil and Denmark regarding the Production of Biogas/Biomethane and Applications” will be held in the auditorium of USP’s Energy and Environment Institute (IEE/USP). The event is coordinated by Professor Suani Teixeira Coelho, who teaches at the IEE and is a researcher for the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), where she heads up the project “The Perspectives for Biomethane’s Contribution to Increasing the Offer of Natural Gas”.

The workshop is free and open to the public, via a limited number of registrations. It will be held in English (with no translation). Registration can be made at Professor Julio Romano Meneghini, RCGI’s Scientific Director, will give the opening words of welcome to attendees at 9:30 a.m., followed by Professor Colombo Tassinari, Director of IEE/USP; Stina Nordsborg, of Innovation Centre Denmark; and Professor Raul Machado, Director of International Relations for USP. The Undersecretary of Renewable Energy of the State of São Paulo, Antonio Celso de Abreu Junior, will round out the first half hour of the opening moments.

From 10:00 a.m. to 10:40 a.m., the subject “Biogas Status and Policies” will be discussed. The panel will be formed by Professors Suani Coelho, Jens Bo Holm-Nielsen of the University of Aalborg, and Alessandro Gardemann, of the Brazilian Association of Biogas and Biomethane (Abiogás).

After a brief coffee break, Professor Virginia Parente (IEE/USP) will lead the session that continues the debate regarding “Biogas Policies”. This time with Professor Rikke Lybeak, of the University of Roskilde, Pietro Sampaio Mendes, of the National Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels Agency (ANP), and Luciano Oliveira, of the Energy Research Company (EPE).

The public will have from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. to discuss with the experts the points brought up in the first two sessions. After lunch, Marilia Fanucchi, from the Department of Renewable Energy Sources of the State of São Paulo, will be the moderator of the session on the “Production of Biogas”. The invited guests will make short presentations. Professor Jens Bo Holm-Nielsen, of the University of Aalborg, will present an overview of the availability of biomass for producing biogas in Denmark and in Europe (“Sustainable Biomass for Biogas – a Danish and European Perspective”). The subject continues with a presentation by Professor Soren Ugilt Larsen (“Danish Examples of Agricultural Biomass Resources for Biogas Production”).

Vinasse, which is being exhaustively studied by Professor Suani Teixeira Coelho, is the subject of the presentation by Professor Jin Mi Trioli, of the University of Southern Denmark (“Optimization of Mono-digestion of Vinasse in the Biorefinery Chain”). After him, Professors Claudio Oller, one of the Directors of RCGI’s Physicochemistry Program, and Gilberto Martins, of the Federal University of the ABC (UFABC), will speak.

“Biogas Upgrade” is the subject of the next-to-last discussion session of the event, with the Chairman being Professor Bruno Carmo, Vice Scientific Director of RCGI. The panel will be composed of Professors Alastair James Ward, of the University of Aarhus, and Samuel Melegari, of UNIOESTE, as well as Pedro Paixão, Manager of Applications for Cabot Brazil.

Finally, in the last session, case studies will be presented by Michael Støckler, of the Agro Business Park; Aurélio de Souza, of Usinazul; and Felipe Souza Marques, of CiBiogas. The event will end at 6:00 p.m.

Workshop: Dialogue between Brazil and Denmark on Production of Biogas/Biomethane and Applications

When: August 24, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Place: Auditorium of the Energy and Environment Institute (Av. Professor Luciano Gualberto, 1,289 – Cidade Universitária – São Paulo, SP).


Researchers from RCGI Attend the World’s Biggest Event Focusing on RD&I in Natural Gas

15th edition of the International Gas Union Research Conference (IGRC) takes place in Rio de Janeiro, in May; more than 20 researchers from RCGI will attend.

Evaluate the perspectives for the country’s liquid natural gas market, the environmental impacts of projects in this area or their role in promoting energy efficiency in industry and in the transportation of cargos and passengers: these are some of the subjects that researchers from the FAPESP-Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) will take to the International Gas Union Research Conference (IGRC), which will take place May 24 to 26, in Rio de Janeiro.

As one of the most important technical events of the natural gas industry, IGRC is an itinerant conference held every three years in a different country. This year, the encounter organized by the International Gas Union (IGU), in association with the Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute (IBP), will be held in pavilion 5 of Rio Centro (Barra da Tijuca). The subject of this edition is “Natural Gas: catalyzing the future”, In line with the various energy policy initiatives under development at the Ministry of Mines and Energy (Gas for Growth Program) and in the State of São Paulo.

The event highlights scientific research, technology development, and innovation as key strategies for the high potential future path for the growth of the u se of natural gas in Brazil and around the world. The conference will map out the technological trends of the natural gas industry, which are essential pillars for the sector’s development.

“The conference is a large debate forum, which will be attended by national and international gas industry representatives. For us, it is an important opportunity not only to publish and display our studies, but also to network and get to know people better from all over the world who develop research projects that are similar to those under development at RCGI,” states attorney Hirdan Katarina de Medeiros Costa. At RCGI, She coordinates the preparation of the first digital repository of Brazilian legislation regarding natural gas (Project 21). Furthermore, she has coauthored six of the 13 articles that the teams from RCGI’s Economy and Energy Policies Program will present at IGRC 2017.

“I believe that taking part in the event can help to make known the legal database about natural gas that we are building, on a digital platform, In RCGI’s Project 21. Not to mention that, via contacts with other researchers and professionals in this work, we can update our survey of the main questions regarding regulations for the natural gas sector in Brazil and abroad,” she says.

Another five coordinators of RCGI projects will be at the conference in Rio de Janeiro: Professors and researchers Edmilson Moutinho, Ricardo Esparta, Osvaldo Lucon, and Alberto Fossa, of the Energy and Environmental Institute of USP (IEE/USP); and Professor Luís Antônio Bittar Venturi, of the College of Philosophy, Letters, and Humanities of the University of São Paulo (FFLCH- USP).

Among the participating institutions are the Gas Technology Institute (USA), the Appliance Company Panasonic Corporation and the Tokyo Gas Co. (Japan), the National Iranian Gas Company (Iran), and the Fachverband Biogas (Germany), plus Brazil’s Energy Research Company (EPE) and the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute of Graduate Studies in Engineering Research of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (COPPE/UFRJ).

Presentations – Six of the 13 articles of RCGI’s Economy and Energy Policies Program, approved for the event, will be presented orally by one of their authors, and the others will be displayed on posters. According to Edmilson Moutinho, the participation of so many RCGI researchers in the conference confirms and emphasizes the importance of R&D as necessary for natural gas to play a significant role in the energy matrix of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, and the world, as foreseen in long-term projections studied and proposed by RCGI’s Project 23 team.

“The articles produced by our research teams present relevant thinking for energy policies and for the development of the natural gas market in Brazil and worldwide,” Moutinho points out. According to him, Brazil has an opportunity at hand with the increased domestic production, after the huge offshore pre-salt discoveries. “But we need to find innovative uses for natural gas on the domestic market. I believe that a more intensive and innovative use will allow the country to raise its standards of industrial competitiveness, and in terms of energy and environmental sustainability.

According to Ricardo Esparta, one of the coordinators of RCGI’s Project 23, the main challenge to be discussed is the role of natural gas in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil. “There are still many questions regarding that role, since the global environmental impacts of natural gas can only be assessed from an integrated perspective and with knowledge of the interactions of the gas with the other resources in the national and regional energy mix. That systemic interpretation requires the development of long-term models, as proposed in our Project 23, as well as extensive exchanges of information with other researchers.” Researchers from Project 23, which simulates and models the emissions scenarios related to natural gas, will be attending the Conference.

Thiago Brito, coauthor of the article “GHG mitigation due to the introduction of CNG and Energy Efficiency Measures in cargo transportation in Brazil”, says that the mass participation of the members of RCGI in RCGI 2017 is vital, for two reasons. “First, in order to establish ourselves as a center of reference for the study of natural gas within USP and in the minds of representatives of international industry. Potential new partners will know who to go to when they need a scientific basis for their activities and they will recognize us at other congresses.

The second reason is the possibility of having closer contact with the realities of the players in this industry. This is a material and solid effort towards greater university/business proximity. Relations with the industry are essential in all of the segments of the applied sciences. This allows researchers to have access to data, as well as a certain validation of the analyses and models. Based on my own experience, I saw that the large serious business groups that have a strategic and technological vision always give a good reception to, and respect, the positions of academic representatives.”

The article mentioned here, which will be presented orally by Brito, is the fruit of RCGI’s Project 25 and deals with how measures for energy efficiency, together with a more intense use of GNV, can contribute to the reduction of energy consumption and of CO2 emissions by cargo-carrying vehicles.

RCGI welcomes the visit of the company that created a Collaborative Registration of Competencies for Comgás

Tool goes on the air in May and assists in mapping a thematic network of the natural gas sector and connects research institutions directly with the company.

This week, Generatech, a company headquartered in Campinas, presented to researchers of FAPESP Shell Research Center for Gas Innovation (RCGI) a tool for the Collaborative Registration of Competencies created for Comgás. The natural gas distributor, which has the distribution concession for the State of São Paulo, is present in 80 municipalities.

The register, which will be put on the air in May, is a tool that assists in mapping research institutions and researchers that are investigating natural gas worldwide, as well as their areas of expertise and of interest. “It is more than a register: it is a means of communication of the institution and researches with the company. It allows the tracking of areas of expertise, the exploration of ideas and opportunities, and the exchange of knowledge,” summarizes engineer Vernei Gialluca, Director of Generatech.

[custom_blockquote style=”green”] “Comgás, like many other companies, has difficulties finding institutions that provide specialized knowledge. This tool helps characterize better the institutions that are called Basic Knowledge Units (BKU). Since the register facilitates the classification of those BKUs, it also facilitates locating a specific piece of knowledge within the environment of the institutions.” [/custom_blockquote]

The São Paulo distributor has an annual R&D program in which it invests an amount set by ARSESP (Regulatory Agency for Sanitation and Energy of the State of São Paulo). In 12 years, Comgás has already invested R$ 46 million in Research and Development (R&D) projects, and in the Conservation and Rationalization of the Use of Gas, along with 26 partners. According to the decision of ARSESP no. 683, published in November 2016, The Minimum Amount set for the 2016/2017 cycle was R$ 8,212,374.75 (eight million two hundred twelve thousand, three hundred and four Reals and seventy five centavos).

Generatech is announcing the tool, and the objective is that such institutions as RCGI register themselves. Comgás will begin to prospect for R&D projects in June. “The software makes it possible to register the KBUs and, inside them, the researchers and their areas of interest. Thus, it makes possible the construction of a Gas Thematic Network, with criteria that includes the publications regarding the subject of natural gas – and the types of publication, the mapping of the areas of knowledge linked to the publications and the place of origin of those publications, as well as the registration of patents in the natural gas area, by institution, by countries….”

According to him, among the areas of interest of Comgás for developing projects in a partnership are: quality of the gas measurement and the corresponding revenues; thermal output of natural gas equipment (industrial furnaces, boilers, operating centers for absorption refrigerator systems, motors, turbines, etc.); quality certification and labeling of efficient equipment, especially in the area of domestic consumption; incentive measures for diversifying the use of natural gas in situations where natural gas offers technical and economical advantages, with relation to other energy sources; adaptation of building installations for natural gas in existing buildings; joint use of natural gas and renewable energy sources; impacts on the environment, like urban transportation (substituting diesel fuel), and others.