In return, the U of A has agreed to perform laboratory and mathematical analyses with the intent of designing and implementing the first field trial of hydrogen storage in a domal salt in Canada at the Robinsons River Salt Project.
The potential market for hydrogen storage in salt caverns is substantial. This research and development aligns with the global shift towards decarbonization and the transition to a more sustainable energy system. The hydrogen market is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades, driven by sectors such as transportation, industry, and power generation, which seek cleaner energy alternatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Building on its current fundamental research into hydrogen-rock interactions, the U of A team will develop protocols and guidelines to optimize locations, design specifications, and operational parameters for hydrogen storage in the salt caverns proposed to be developed at the Robinsons River Salt Project.
To achieve this goal, the research team will conduct proof of concept experiments on core samples and simulation studies to identify and unlock the challenges related to containment and contamination of stored hydrogen.
The findings are expected to help to develop a multi-physics model to predict hydrogen transport and reactions in the caverns proposed to be developed at the Robinsons River Salt Project as functions of temperature, pressure, in-situ stress, rock fabric and composition, and storage operational parameters.
This two-year project is planned to consist of four research phases:
The project tasks will be conducted by at least three PhD students and one postdoc fellow under the supervision of Dr. Hassan Deghanpour and other faculty members with relevant expertise at the U of A, utilizing the state-of-the-art facilities at the U of A. Vortex’s cash contribution to the project will total C$300,000 over a 2-year period, which began on October 1st, 2023.
Vortex will also track and record all in-kind contributions including but not limited to geological, geophysical, engineering, drilling, sampling, and reporting work completed on the Robinsons River Salt Project.
Major laboratory infrastructure required for the proposed hydrogen-related experiments (core flooding systems, reactors, and visualization systems) have been recently designed and built under a recent grant awarded to the research team by Alberta Innovates Hydrogen Center of Excellence and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. As part of their partnership, Vortex and the U of A will actively seek out other provincial and federal grants designated for hydrogen and green energy initiatives throughout North America. The Company is also exploring the opportunity to use developed hydrogen caverns for compressed air energy storage.
Paul Sparkes, Chief Executive Officer, commented “The University of Alberta is world renowned for its work in energy. This partnership places Vortex at the forefront of hydrogen and energy storage research in domal salt structures in Atlantic Canada. Dr. Hassan Deghanpour and his team of researchers have already received grants from the likes of Alberta Innovates’ Hydrogen Centre of Excellence, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Mitacs Accelerate Grants Program. We are thrilled to be partnering with an institution and team of this caliber.”