Sustainability 2013 report
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22 IN PEX C O RPO RA TIO N SU STA IN A BILITY REPO RT 2013 Renewable energyCO2 CH4 Major source (thermal power plant, etc.) Energy extraction CCS Carbon conversion by microbes electromethanogenesis 1 CCS (carbon dioxide capture and storage): Technology to separate, capture and store CO2 emitted from major sources 2 CO2 EOR (CO2 enhanced oil recovery): Technology for improving crude oil recovery by injecting CO2 into oil fields Special Feature Part 4 Renewable and New Energies Stable Energy Supply Balancing Energy and the Environment Environmental Conservation The 3 Areas of R&D (Research & Development) Activities for New Energies and the Development Process of Technologies In this research, methane-producing archaea living in oil and gas fields and aquifers produce methane (CH4) after CO2 has been injected underground through CCS and CO2 EOR processes. Since methane-producing archaea must be supplied with a constant source of hydrogen, INPEX are conducting laboratory experiments intended at using the electrochemical reducing power of hydrogen for this purpose. So far, INPEX have confirmed that microorganisms living in domestic oil fields, including methane-producing archaea, show a strong methane production activity. Methane Generation Using Microbes Actualization Optimization Existing Technologies Renewable energies (solar power generation, wind power generation) Geothermal power generation Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) Technologies for use of natural gas (hydrogen-use technologies: gas-to-liquids (GTL), dimethyl ether (DME) Development of heavy oilTight gas development Methane hydrate Practical Application Sustainable carbon-recycling system (recycling methane through the use of microbes) Artificial-photosynthesis technologies Enhanced oil recovery (EOR: EOR with carbon dioxide, air injection) Technologies for use of natural gas (transport and storage technologies: natural gas hydrate (NGH), underground gas storage) Lithium-ion technology Transportation methods with low energy loss We support a stable energy supply through efficient development of l imited energy resources and development of new types of energy resources for the future. We are developing methods to support both a stable supply of energy and environmental conservation. We aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause for global warming. Providing a stable supply of energy Balancing energy and the environment Environmental conservation Long-Term Research to Actualize New Possibilities ctualization can be defined as the long-term challenge of looking at 50 to 100 years ahead of now to find possible new energy sources, in the same way as mankind discovered energy sources such as oil, natural gas, wind power or solar power. Ideally, these sources would be inexpensive, safe, and available in Japan, and they would not place a load on the environment. An example is given by the research for production of hydrogen, which is regarded as the ultimate renewable energy, from sunlight and water. Hydrogen is a clean energy whose combustion results in the formation of water only. It can also be used to produce hydrocarbon fuels and chemical materials through reaction with CO2. At present, it is generally manufactured from oil, methane, and such other substances. We are participating in the Japan Technological Research Association of Artificial Photosynthetic Chemical Process launched in November 2012 by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry with the aim of establishing technology for efficient manufacture of hydrogen by resolution of water through photoca talysis. INPEX is therefore part of a joint project to this end pooling the capabilities of government, industry, and academia. A The Sustainable Carbon-Cycle System Engineering is a research program INPEX has been co-sponsoring with the Frontier Research Center for Energy and Resources at the School of Engineering of the University of Tokyo. This research is an attempt to convert CO2, which is injected underground during processes such as CCS1 and CO2 EOR2, to methane by using methane-producing bacteria living in oil and gas fields and underground aquifers. Our research is going beyond CO2 underground sequestration through CCS, which is intended as a measure to cope with global warming. We are looking for ways to recycle CO2 to develop new energies in the context of a recycling-oriented society. The technologies we have honed through oil and natural gas explora tion and development are absolutely necessary, and we are going to take advantage of this existing know-how of the INPEX Group, and link it to innovations such as using the functions of living organisms. In that respect, we feel that the possibilities and responsibilities are immense. (Haruo Maeda, Senior Coordi nator, Technical Research Center, Technical Division) As a comprehensive energy developer and supplier, INPEX supports a sustainable society through R&D activities targeting advanced exploration and development of oil and natural gas. INPEX focuses its R&D activities in the following three areas.