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What next for our shales?

”Głos Akademicki” 11-12/2012 presented an innovative method of gas extraction from shales, which was developed by Prof. Tadeusz Niezgoda’s team.

Let us remind that a method of conjugated extraction of gas carbohydrates and storage of CO2 from horizontal small-diameter wellbores erected in a single vertical wellbore, which was submitted to Both Polish and European Patent Office, consists in gas recovery through introducing coupled liquid and cooled CO2, what causes penetration of CO2 into the rock and its phase transition under the influence of temperature in the deposit and intensive rock fracture, CO2 adsorption and simultaneous desorption of gas hydrocarbon (e.g., shale gas).

The present article aims to inform about further works on the development of the technology of gas extraction from the shales conducted at the Department of Mechanics and Applied Computer Science.

In 2013, there took place several important meeting and events (some of them ere mentioned in “Głos Akademicki) which were of key importance for development of our method. It is possible to state that, presently, the method has been refined and it provides for all claims and opinions which were faced. The other version of the elaboration describing the method along with comments on the remarks and opinions has been passed to people and institutions interested in the matter, including PGNiG (Polish Oil and Gas Company), ARP (Industrial Development Agency) and NCBiR (The National Centre for Research and Development).

On 13th May, 2013 Rector- Commandant of Military University of Technology - Gen.Brig., Prof., Zygmunt Mierczyk appointed the Centre of Advanced Energetic Technologies at Military University of Technology as an interdisciplinary task force. The works conducted by the Centre are supervised by Prof., D.Sc., Eng., Tadeusz Niezgoda who was appointed for the position of the head of the Centre. Establishment of the Centre allows initiation and accomplishing, along with basic organisational units of Military University of Technology, the research and development works with regard to new energetic technologies, unconventional energy, automation of energy, new extraction technologies of drill mining. It will also allow development of the final technology of gas extraction from shales, what is a broad task as well as demands participation of specialists in different fields of technology.

From 01.06. to 15.09, the communication passages and rooms were, thanks to His Magnificence Rector of Military University of Technology, renovated and equipped the new laboratory of the Centre of Advanced Energetic Technologies with apparatus for examination of CO2 and rocks.

On 8th July, we paid an extremely important visit to Polish Geological Institute, where we established cooperation in the area of the method of fracturing with liquid CO2. The fact that the best Polish geologists are the members of the team, significantly empowers the team from Military University of Technology.

During holidays (01.06 -16.07) the first experiments confirming the effectiveness of the method were conducted in a new laboratory of the Centre of Advanced Energetic Technologies. The Laboratory was officially opened by His Magnificence Rector of Military University of Technology on 19th September.

Very important for me was a “brainstorm” meeting which took place at the beginning of June in the seat of PGNiG. It was participated by specialists for drilling and shale gas from PGNiG, including the director Dariusz Dzirba and independent expert from AGH University of Science and Technology – Prof., Stanisław Nagy. During the meeting, we were given a very scrupulous assessment of our method and guidelines concerning the direction in which it should be developed. Based on them, it was developed an elaboration which points out that our method is possible to be successful in Polish conditions.

An interesting and important event was a visit paid to us by French TV in July. We had an interview on our method. The Frenchs’ interest is very significant as France put a ban on gas extraction from shales on its territory due to damaging effects of a hydraulic fracturing method. Our method, as an ecological one, could be a good solution for them.

On 19th July, Prof., Tadeusz Niezgoda collected Tadeusz Sendzimir Honorary Medal of SPWiR (Association of Polish Inventors and Rationalizers) in the seat of AGH University of Science and Technology. This distinction is granted to the most eminent creators in technology and to promoters of the innovative movement in Poland as well as to institutions meritorious for development of innovations. It is significant that the Medal was handed at AGH University of Science and Technology – the university of long traditions in mining and deposit excavation.

In September, an important event for us and the entire university was a visit paid by the members of the French Parliament (it was an initiative of a French party) in order to get familiar with the method (described in “Głos Akademicki” 10/2013). As it was mentioned, development of the method of gas extraction from shales is very important for France, therefore their support may constitute a future source of funds, e.g., European funds. During dinner served at the ambassador of France’s, Pierre Buhler’s, residence, the director of Polish Geological Institute, Prof. Jerzy Nawrocki said that the method developed by Military University of Technology is an opportunity to develop an alternative method of hydraulic fracturing effective in Polish deposit conditions.

Another interesting visit took place at Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal in Zabrze on 10th October . The subject of the meeting was a method for delivering CO2 for fracturing, received from the exhaust fumes in industry plants with the use of amino absorption (demonstrator in the mobile form, i.e., a container including a necessary apparatus, is placed in Łaziska power plant). One of the main problems of our method (what seems to be rather a nonsense considering the air pollution) is an issue of providing the necessary amount of CO2 for the process of methane extraction (replacing methane with CO2). Companies producing CO2 offer this gas at the price of approximately 400 PLN a ton, what causes that the extraction method is uneconomical. The use of the technology developed by Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal provides the necessary amount of CO2 coming from combustion gas treatment, what improves an economical effect and ecological methods. The management of the Institute declares provision of demand for carbon dioxide in particularly any place in the country, where the industry “producing” this gas exists.

It should be also noted that presently the cooperation with Military University of Technology, concerning development of technology of gas extraction from shales based on our method , was declared by widely-known and renowned Polish research centres such as already mentioned Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal in Zabrze and Silesian University of Technology, University of Silesia, Warsaw University of Technology, Lodz University of Technology. The researchers from the presented institutions will support one another with expertise in development of research works on new concepts, e.g., those concerning unconventional methods of gas extraction from shales. Cooperation is also declared by many practising people, researchers and teams connected with renowned research centres in Poland and overseas. Recently, scientific elaborations demonstrated a number of opinions positively assessing our venture. For example, the article titled ”Carbon DioxideFracturing Technologies For ShaleGasRecovery by A. Rogala, K.Księżak, J. Góral, J. Krzysiek and J. Hupka (Mineral Engineering Conference MEC 31023) it was stated that our method is one of the best alternatives for hydraulic fracturing.

At the beginning of 2014, at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Military University of Technology, we are planning to organise a meeting – symposium participated by leading researchers from, among others, AGH University of Science and Technology. On our part, the participation was declared by Vice-Rector for education – Prof., D.Sc., Eng., Krzysztof Czupryński. On AGH party, the participation was declared by the Dean of the Faculty of Drilling, Oil and Gas – Prof., D.Sc., Eng., Andrzej Gonet and the head of the Department of Natural Gas Engineering – Prof. Stanisław Nagy. Prof. Gonet offered his support concerning design of boreholes, selection of proppants and deposit simulations. The symposium will concern determining the scope of cooperation concerning gas extraction from shales and exchange of experience between the universities. Other universities such as Poznan University of Technology and Kielce University of Technology also expressed interest in participating in the Symposium.

Cooperation between Military University of Technology and AGH University of Science and Technology concerning problems related to gas extraction from shales has been already initiated, however it concerns management of extraction risk. Both universities and other important Polish research centres, including the Institute of Geological Sciences Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy of Sciences, Faculty of Geology University of Warsaw, Institute of Computer Science Warsaw University of Technology have been invited to a common interdisciplinary project titled “Intelligent Risk Management System in search for deposits of carbohydrates and other minerals” initiated by Ph.D. Andrzej Jankowski, an Artificial Intelligence specialist, from Institute of Computer Science Warsaw University of Technology. The aim of the project is to build, implement and develop an integrated intelligent system of risk management in search for deposits (particularly unconventional ones) of carbohydrates and other minerals. The project was positively received in the Centre for Research and Development. The task of Military University of Technology will be analysing the availability and testing new technologies new technologies for searching and extracting carbohydrates in terms of reducing the risk of searching for natural deposits. There will be considered: the Military University of Technology method for gas extraction from shales in respect to other hitherto applied methods, innovative drilling device for erecting small-diameter boreholes equipped with sensors of underground localization of methane deposits resulting in reducing risk of so-called borehole miss (also patented by Prof. Niezgioda’s team) and technology with the usage of lidars, developed by the Institute of Optoelectronics, Military University of Technology, allowing detection of trace (one particle out of trillion) of gases in the air, which could be typical for the given deposit.

The latest event was a visit by a deputy of European Parliament, Bogusław Sonik, paid to Prof. Niezgoda and in the Laboratory of Advanced Energetic Technologies. The deputy is a well-known activist in the European Union supporting gas extraction from shales. With regard to the bans of hydraulic fracturing introduced in European Union countries, the deputy declared his assistance in promoting our method in Europe, what can contribute to international cooperation. It should be noted that Prof. Niezgoda during his stay in Brussels, connected with receiving an order of Grand Officer Star of Commander Cross of Order of Innovativeness of the Kingdom of Belgium, discussed and presented elaboration concerning the method to the ambassador of the Republic of Poland in the Kingdom of Belgium – Artur Harman who expressed a great interest in the subject and promised cooperation. It should be also noted that Ph. D., Eng., Grzegorz Sławiński was honoured in Brussels with the Knight’s Cross of Order of Innovativeness of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Finally, it is possible to state that works in the newly open Laboratory are ongoing and their scope is gradually extended. Also, simulation studies applying numerical methods includes more and more complex cognitive problems. Development of new technologies requires a lot of time and costs. We are applying for financing, from the National Centre for Research and Development, works related to simulation of phenomena occurring under the ground (at the depth of 3-5 km), however under laboratory conditions. In this field, we are intending to cooperate with the Institute of Aviation which possesses a pressure chamber with a possibility to provide relevant thermal conditions in it. We also took an initiative to cooperate with overseas companies dealing with extraction of shale gas in Poland. We also work on numerous aspects of the method, which will allow solution of technological problems.

Author: Danuta Miedzińska

Prof. Tadeusz Niezgoda and the Ambasador of France in Poland – Pierre Buhler

Tadeusz Sendzimir medal received by Prof. Niezgoda at AGH Science and Technology University

Representatives of Military University of Technology (from the left to the right):
Grzegorz Sławiński, Ewelina Małek, Prof. Tadeusz Niezgoda, Danuta Miedzińska and Aleksander Sobolewski, the director of the Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal in Zabrze

Prof. Tadeusz Niezgoda and Member of European Parliament Bogusław Sonik in the laboratory of the Centre of Advanced Energetic Technologies, Military University of Technology

Prof. Tadeusz Niezgoda and the Ambassador of Belgium in Poland – Artur Harazim

Prof. Tadeusz Niezgoda and Ph.D., Eng., Grzegorz Sławiński in Brussels


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