Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of systems using light alkane resources

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2021-12-03

Authors

Chen, Qining

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Abstract

Expanded production of natural gas and natural gas liquids have motivated proposals for modular and distributed processes to utilize the light alkane resources. The design of modular systems requires mappings of the temporal and spatial availabilities of the light alkane feedstocks. In addition, as the worldwide ambitions in reducing carbon footprints grow, the uses of the light alkane resources may be strictly limited by the greenhouse gas footprints of the light alkane feedstocks and supply chains. Therefore, the understanding of both production and emission characteristics of light alkane resources, as well as the emissions along the light alkane supply chains from production through downstream manufacturing, are of great significance. This thesis uses the Eagle Ford Shale as a prototypical upstream oil and gas region and examines the feedstock compositions, production magnitudes, and temporal evolutions of feedstock availability for the modular chemical manufacturing that utilizes light alkane resources as feedstocks, at various operation scales. Emissions associated with light alkanes production are also estimated at various spatial scales in the Eagle Ford Shale and the spatial variabilities in emissions have been examined. These spatial variabilities in upstream emissions, mainly due to the varying production characteristics, can lead to great differences in the emission estimates of downstream chemical manufacturing operations that utilize the light alkane resources. Different upstream emission accounting and reporting methods can also lead to significant differences in the emission estimates of downstream chemicals and fuels. This indicates that tracking the origins of feedstock sources, as well as applying consistent and transparent metrics for measuring and reporting emissions from upstream oil and gas production are very important in the utilization of the light alkane resources. The estimates of emissions from light alkane production and supply chains favor detailed emission inventories with fine temporal and spatial resolutions, however, such emission inventories are rarely available in public accessible databases. The Methane Emission Estimation Tool examined in this thesis, together with the methane emission monitoring network conceptually designed and theoretically evaluated in this thesis, will enable detailed emission estimates for light alkanes production and supply chains.

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