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Pioneering excellence in CO2 pipeline safety

05 Jun 2024


Ricardo has joined a new partnership to help advance safety standards in carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline operations.
Project Skylark has been launched in response to the increase in large-scale carbon capture, transportation, and storage projects around the world that are helping to facilitate green energy production.  

Although CO2 is already transported and safely stored, the growth of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) activity will see significant increases in the volume of CO2 carried through networks of onshore and offshore pipelines.
Given these networks can extend for long distances across a variety of terrains and topographies, undertaking detailed risk assessments throughout their entire length is a significant challenge for the asset owners.

Working alongside DNV, the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, and the University of Arkansas, our experts will provide empirical data on the behaviour of CO2 in high-volume pipeline release scenarios, which will be used to test, validate and improve modelling capabilities across industry and academia. 

Both the dataset and the validated, updated and enhanced tools will provide industry and regulators with an array of options for assessing the risk of new and re-purposed CO2 pipelines.

"We’re delighted to support this pioneering initiative,” says Craig Thomson, Chemical Lead for Ricardo. “Although failure in these networks is extremely rare, by building a greater understanding of the implications of a release incident we will be helping the sector to refine and improve its emergency response plans.”

Daniel Allason, Senior Principal Consultant and Project Skylark Lead, DNV, said “We believe considering the potential impact of any large-scale system failures from project conception is essential. Having access to the knowledge and experience of the Ricardo team, safety and response requirements can be factored in at each stage of the infrastructure modelling and design. The opportunity to prepare emergency response solutions provides confidence in our abilities to minimise the risk and potential impact of a release.”

Ricardo expertise will help inform future emergency response

Typically, modelling tools are used to predict the outflow, dispersion and effects along the length of the pipeline to support the planning of new pipelines or the safety case from conversion of existing pipelines. There are known challenges in modelling the behaviour of dense gas dispersion, particularly associated with the source term determination and the subsequent interaction of the terrain on the ensuing dispersion.

To help address some of these knowledge gaps, Skylark will focus on four specific ‘Challenges’:

  • Challenge 1: Source characteristics from CO2 pipeline craters - Understanding the interaction between pipeline failure, crater formation, and atmospheric conditions to predict dispersing behaviour in different scenarios.
  • Challenge 2: Terrain effects on dense clouds - Investigating the influence of slopes, valleys, and complex terrain on the behaviour of dense vapor clouds produced by CO2 sources.
  • Challenge 3: Emergency Response - Testing equipment, techniques, and procedures used by emergency responders in large CO2 releases, including search and rescue operations and the impact on internal combustion engines.
  • Challenge 4: Operational Issues (venting) - Studying the outflow rates, vent heights, and hazard distances associated with necessary venting events, ensuring safe dispersion of gas without compromising pipeline integrity. 

Ricardo will take a lead on Challenge 3, engaging with emergency responders to make the best use of the CO2 dispersion trials and ensure emergency teams are sufficiently prepared to deal with possible CO2  release incidents. 

Learn more about this project



Supporting the safe use of chemicals and hazard management since 1973

Ricardo’s chemical experts have been providing support to the chemical sector and the users of chemical products since 1973, we offer tailored support from cradle-to-grave across the entire chemical supply chain. Our experts have an in depth understanding of global industry landscape and work to solve the challenges these pose to organisations at all stages in the value chain.

With experienced subject matter experts in chemical sector regulations and compliance, Ricardo supports businesses in placing, monitoring, and transporting chemical products across the globe. Our expertise encompasses safety and sustainability requirements as we collectively work to decarbonise business practices, transition to products that are Safe and Sustainable by Design, reduce environmental toxicological risks and take steps towards a circular and low carbon economy.

Ricardo supports organisations with chemical safety and hazard management responsibilities, regulatory compliance and product and organisational sustainability. 

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