Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio / Technology | VOL. 19

Can fossil fuel energy be recovered and used without any CO2 emissions to the

Publication Date Feb 21, 2020


The world’s energy system is still dominated by fossil fuels. While there is a rapid reduction in the cost of renewable energy and the environmental costs of continued carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel recovery and use are well understood, current economic, infrastructure and political constraints sustain the fossil fuel enterprise as a dominant component of the energy system. Though routes to decarbonizing fossil fuel use, such as carbon capture and storage, have been proposed and have been demonstrated at commercial scale, current CCS CO2 storage quantities are very small and no large-scale practical route to providing fossil fuel energy, without the CO2 emissions attendant with fuel production and use has been proposed. Here we look at some of the boundary conditions and possible routes to production of emissions free energy from fossil fuels, and specifically petroleum reservoirs. Focusing on the production of electrical power we look at possible applications of microbially mediated hydrocarbon oxidation, coupled to a range of energy harvesting strategies, to the provision of electrical power at surface at a range of scales suitable for grid power provision, powering upstream oilfield facilities or for powering in situ sensing and exploration systems. We also ask the question, even if practical, would direct production of electrical power from oil and gas fields be a politically and economically sensible strategy as part of the energy transition away from traditional fossil fuel use.

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Fossil Fuel
Energy Harvesting Strategies
Electrical Power
Gas Fields
Energy System

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