CORDIS - EU research results

A Multi-species tracking analyser for natural gas process refinement and optimisation

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Mustang-Pro (A Multi-species tracking analyser for natural gas process refinement and optimisation)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2015-10-31

Natural gas is the world’s fastest growing fossil fuel with global consumption expected to increase by 70%, from 4 trillion m3 in 2014 to 7 trillion by 2040. It also plays a vital role in economic recovery, future growth and for meeting Europe’s 2020 demanding emissions reduction targets. Efficient, responsible and effective use of natural gas resources is therefore essential for Europe. Raw natural gas varies in composition from source to source with methane (CH4) the major component (60-98%), followed by ethane, (C2H6), propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10). All natural gas also contains undesirable impurities and contaminants, including water, CO2, nitrogen and hydrogen sulphide (H2S). The problem is compounded by unconventional sources such as shale gas which have far greater compositional variance than conventional natural gas. Despite this variance, the composition of gas delivered to transmission pipelines has to be tightly controlled by the gas producers to meet stringent quality standards and specifications. Natural gas therefore has to be processed to remove these contaminants. This can be a complex, expensive and energy intensive process. With high financial penalties or the threat of closure for gas producers not meeting high quality standards, most natural gas is understandably highly over processed. However, this practice is time consuming, energy intensive and leads to high CO2 emissions. It is also ultimately expensive, (a cost of €91billion p.a. globally). This problem will only get worse as more shale gas is exploited in Europe and globally due to the large variability in shale gas pocket composition. Europe has 18.1 trillion m3 (est.) in shale gas reserves, with the US at 24.4 trillion m3 and ROW at 579.1 trillion m3. The key reason for this over processing is that producers lack precise knowledge about the dynamic quantity of contaminants present in the gas feedstock.

The objective of this innovation project is to bring to technological maturity and market readiness an innovative, cost effective, natural gas analyser with the potential to improve the energy efficiency of natural gas processing facilities by up to 20%. In so doing, we aim to save the EU gas processing industry €1.3 billion p.a. help Europe meet its demanding CO2 reduction targets and generate a market opportunity worth €51.4 million, creating 54 jobs.
During the reporting period (SME Phase 1) we assessed the project’s technical, financial and commercial risks. The result of this work was a risk management strategy, formulating suitable contingency and mitigation plans for each risk ranked low/medium/high in terms of impact and probability. A SWOT analysis was undertaken for commercial factors and critical path analysis to control and schedule project work-flow whilst mitigating delays, failure or overspend caused by critical paths. A market study was carried out in order to identify the key product features most valued by the end-user/customer. From this, we were able to confirm industry interest and identify key customers to approach for pilot demonstration activity and to obtain reference sites. The results of our user validation study confirmed that Mustang-Pro comprehensively addresses our user's needs and we were delighted to have received notification that our Patent GB2524545 – Multi-species spectroscopy has been granted as of 30 September 2015. This means we have taken successful steps to make our technology and brand more secure. Finally, we were able to undertake a series of road-mapping exercises to identify a product family and schedule for future enhancements to build upon the core Mustang-Pro technology.
The results from our Phase 1 feasibility project were the production of (a) Risk Assessment to identify critical factors for the commercialisation phase (b) to undertake and strengthen our User Engagement (c) to Develop an economic model to calculate the benefits of improved processing control (d) to undertake and develop an Innovation strategy to identify a road map for future product developments and new features and finally (e) to elaborate our ideas and understanding of our future business plan

The immediate stage after this Phase 1 project would be to undertake a Phase 2 project. The outcomes from a successful Phase 2 project, whose objectives would be to commercialise Mustang-Pro, would include:
a) The refinement of the highly novel Mustang-PRO proof of concept at Technology Readiness Level, (TRL) 6 for which a Patent has been granted, to accurately, rapidly (<60s) and continually sweep the wavelength (20nm) of a low cost laser diode source (TDL).Thereby creating a cost effective, wideband, tuneable diode laser absorption spectroscopy TDLAS analyser boasting a full range of contaminant measurement all to class leading accuracy in a single unit.
b) Achieve a component low cost manufacturing method to minimise system cost to the industry.
c) To achieve a market penetration of 7.5% (EU) and 3% (globally), 7 years post project, generating a total revenue of €51m and a net profit (EBITDA) of €20.9m . Create 54 new jobs across our European offices and supply chains.
d) To save the gas industry up to 20% of their processing costs, €97.5m p.a. (EU) and €507m p.a. (globally).

This project will develop something new for Europe that addresses both European and global challenges. In particular, with natural gas playing an increasing role in the overall energy mix, we will help Europe achieve its demanding 2020 targets for the reduction of energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. The project will continue to grow in strategic importance as more shale gas reserves are explored and extracted, due to their inherent compositional variability. The main driver is to reduce gas processing costs, energy consumption, and emissions whilst ensuring quality of output. Our novel product will increase efficiency, assure quality and offer savings of €97.5m p.a. to European gas producers (at just 7.5% market penetration) and the potential for €18.2bm of total savings on a global scale. This will directly contribute to the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s economy.