Waste-Heat-to-Power Technology Cuts Oil & Gas Costs, Emissions
As oil and gas companies look to cut costs during this time of price volatility and meet strict emissions regulations, Alphabet Energy and Coyote North have developed a product that that they say does both.
Alphabet Energy’s technology turns waste heat from exhaust into electricity. Coyote North develops waste gas incinerators and combustors.
The two companies’ Power Generating Combustor (PGC), which converts exhaust heat from enclosed flares into electrical power, is now being deployed at well pads in the Marcellus-Utica shale region. The companies say the product eliminates the need for diesel- and natural gas-powered generators and electrical grid connections at well pads, reducing costs of fuel, rental and maintenance, and eliminating emissions.
It follows escalating efforts in the US and Canada to limit emissions from the oil and gas industry.
Over the summer, the EPA proposed regulations to limit methane emissions from new and modified sources in the oil and gas sector as part of its plan to cut such emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. Earlier this year the US Interior Department proposed a methane emissions rule to limit venting, flaring and leaking from oil and gas operations on public and American Indian lands.
This month, the EPA will begin developing regulations to limit methane releases from existing oil and gas wells. Canada has also committed to regulate methane emissions from new oil and gas wells and reduce these emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
Using the PGC, well pad operators will immediately eliminate emissions that would have been produced by the diesel- and natural gas-powered generators, the companies say.
By offsetting diesel- and natural gas-powered generators, the PGC has the potential to eliminate approximately 50 US tons of CO2; 1,000 pounds of NOx + NMHC; 900 pounds of CO per flare, per year in the United States. If added to 60,000 enclosed flares in the US, the PGC could help eliminate about 3 million US tons of CO2; 30,000 US tons of NOx + NMHC; and 27,000 US tons of CO annually, the companies say.
Alphabet Energy and Coyote North developed the PGC after hearing feedback from their oil and gas customers who said getting reliable electricity to their remote sites proved challenging. To meet this need, Alphabet Energy initially produced the E1, which turned waste heat into electricity. Customers wanted to use a similar product on enclosed flares, so Alphabet Energy and Coyote North developed the PCG.
The PGC is a two-part system that includes an enclosed flare, and a cap-like-designed thermoelectric generator, which attaches to the top of the enclosed flare. The underlying enclosed flare delivers high-temperature exhaust heat to Alphabet Energy’s PowerModules, which contain heat exchangers and the company’s proprietary thermoelectric material.
The companies say the currently offered PGC generates 2.5 kW of electricity, which is enough for well pad operators to optimize production and ensure site safety by running a variety of site electronics, such as process and monitoring equipment.
The companies are developing a second version of the PGC with increased power output that will be available in the future.
“Our customers tell us their flares are burning money,” said Mothusi Pahl, vice president of marketing and head of business development, oil & gas, Alphabet Energy. “By converting an enclosed flare’s exhaust heat into electricity, a well pad operator offsets thousands of dollars per month that would have been spent on generator fuel, rental and maintenance costs, all while ensuring site safety and reliability.”
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