Baton Rouge is emerging as a key hub for research and deployment of carbon capture technology in industry.
This growing prominence was highlighted by a recent global gathering of experts co-hosted by LSU and the University of Texas at Austin.
The International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network Meeting, held this week, welcomed attendees from 12 nations. The event facilitated discussions on innovative technologies and methods in carbon capture and evaluated the strengths and limitations of monitoring techniques.
“There will be many service companies involved in these projects as they’re developed,” says Tim Dixon, IEAGHG’s general manager. He believes this will spotlight Baton Rouge and Louisiana’s contributions to the broader carbon capture sector.
The IEAGHG is headquartered in the UK. Its meeting, which took place Tuesday and Wednesday. Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $1.2 billion investment in two carbon capture facilities: One in Texas; the other, southwest Louisiana.
The latter, dubbed Project Cypress, is expected to create 2,300 jobs and extract one million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere annually, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in a press release.
Both the LSU gathering and the investment in Project Cypress signify a strategic shift for petrochemical plants in and around Baton Rouge. As Dixon notes, those entities are transitioning to sustainable, decarbonization-centric business models.
LSU is uniquely poised to play a crucial role in molding the future of the carbon capture sector in Baton Rouge and beyond. Earlier this year, LSU introduced the nation’s first carbon capture, utilization and storage concentration within its Department of Petroleum Engineering. This initiative is created to “prepare the next generation of engineers” to tackle challenges inherent to the carbon capture field, Petroleum Engineering Associate Professor Mehdi Zeidouni explains.
“We’re seeing a big movement of people with oil and gas industry expertise moving into carbon management expertise,” Dixon adds. “There are going to be many jobs in the future as part of a just transition for these energy intensive industries to decarbonize.”
While the IEAGHG meeting radiated optimism about carbon capture’s prospects, public apprehension remains, such as with Air Products’ planned carbon capture injections a mile beneath Lake Maurepas.
The company’s planned $4.5 billion hydrogen manufacturing complex in Ascension Parish aims to harness carbon capture methods to sequester emissions, depositing five million tons of carbon dioxide annually about a mile below the lakebed. Local residents express concerns over potential leaks, which could harm the delicate ecosystem and economy reliant on the lake, the Louisiana Illuminator reports.
The recent LSU-led gathering underscored the imperative of vigilantly monitoring carbon capture technologies. Zeidouni says its important to disseminate comprehensive data on the technology to alleviate concerns. “Like every technology, there are risks,” he adds. “But they are manageable risks if we do the engineering right and follow the rules.”
There have been no leaks in any of the projects that IEAGHG has been involved in, Dixon adds.