GHG EPA: Building our global engineering bench strength

IHS Engineering Workbench

Devon Energy is using a highly advanced search engine to identify technologies that use low temperature waste heat. The IHS Engineering Workbench allows the GHG Environmental Priority Area members to search the globe for promising waste heat recovery technologies from sectors outside the oil sands.

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Wayne Hillier

Wayne Hillier
Director, Greenhouse Gases EPA

The concept of “open innovation”—collaborating across company lines and sectors to help accelerate our industry’s environmental performance—has evolved to “directed innovation” in the Greenhouse Gases (GHG) EPA. When it comes to finding ways to reduce or recover emissions from oil sands operations, we have searched quite extensively within the oil and gas industry itself for solutions. Now we are focused on discovering economically and environmentally viable ways to manage and decrease our GHGs that may come from other fields and industries as well. 

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE is another way we are casting the net even wider. As we near the end of the team registration phase on July 15, we’re closer to finding ways to turn carbon dioxide into useful products. We look forward to learning more about the groups that have come together to compete. Stay tuned for the semi-finalist announcement in October.

On a different scale, we’re now in the third phase of the COSIA ARCTIC Waste Heat Sprint Challenge. We’ve partnered with Foresight, a cleantech accelerator in British Columbia, to breakdown one of our GHG Challenges. The refined challenge, to find novel ways to turn heat lost in energy production into an alternative energy source, was sent out to a specific network of clean technology innovators, first in Canada and then globally. We received 17 proposals and have narrowed it down to three. With funding from Western Economic Diversification and our Associate Member the British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC), the finalists must now advance their technology in a relatively short window of six months, in a “sprint” to a field demonstration. This challenge was directed at small to medium-sized enterprises, so with the help of Foresight, we were able to size the challenge appropriately for this audience to tackle. 

It is this sort of directed innovation, and clearly articulating our challenges in a way that speaks to targeted industries, that we will be focusing on throughout the rest of 2016. By setting out the problems we need to solve in ways that can be interpreted and investigated by other industries, we can continue to find ways to reduce energy use and GHG emissions from our operations.