Addressing Energy Transition Challenges: Insights from GTherm CEO Mike Parrella


Member states of the UN agreed to a "transition away" from fossil fuels in an effort to limit global heating to 1.5°C. However, to achieve this, CO2 emissions must be decreased by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050,  meaning the amount of CO2 emitted by human activities should be equal to the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere. 

Whether in first-world or developing countries, much of the world relieson fossil fuels, with new fossil fuel power plants still being built to meet the growing power demands of many developing economies. Global energy consumption is projected to increase by around 30% over the next two to three decades.

Completing the energy transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy sources is a noble and lofty goal, but it will take a long time to complete and satisfy energy demand, and it is also replete with challenges. Ensuring a fair and equitable transition is important, especially as so many people's lives and livelihoods are tied to hydrocarbon-based energy. Furthermore, the current level of renewable energy technology is not yet able to fully supplant hydrocarbons as humanity's primary energy source while maintaining the current standard of living.  

GTherm, Inc., a clean energy technology company based in Houston, Texas, believes that a concrete step toward net zero today is better than dreaming about it. As part of its NetZeroNow® vision, GTherm seeks to enable existing hydrocarbon energy projects to rapidly achieve net zero through its GTSystem technology, which integrates various legacy siloed systems to come up with advanced solutions. GTherm has invented a process using fossil fuel (gas, oil, and coal) to create NetZeroNow® electricity. This allows the world to achieve NetZeoNow® results as part of the energy transition.  

GTSystem removes CO2 directly from the exhaust of the electricity generation project rather than the atmosphere. Direct air capture (DAC) technologies have to process huge amounts of air to gather carbon, as CO2 makes up only 0.04% of atmospheric air. This makes it less efficient than capturing carbon close to the source, with exhaust gasses composed of almost 12% CO2. 

After capturing the CO2, GTherm directs part of it to greenhouses, combining it with nitrogen to stimulate crop growth and production, which helps increase agricultural yield and improve the food supply. It also combines the CO2 with heated brine for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), injecting this solution into the reservoir and applying wave pulse technology to loosen and extract more oil from the reservoir. This also sequesters the CO2 underground, preventing it from going into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.

According to GTherm Chairman and CEO Michael Parrella, he got the idea for the technology when he was drinking a soda. Noticing the bubbles coming out of the drink once it was opened, Parrella realized that combining CO2 with brine extracted from the reservoir and keeping it in a pressurized environment, such as underground, would be a viable way to store the CO2 produced by hydrocarbon energy plants. Carbonating the brine is a cost-effective method of carbon capture in relation to other solutions, such as amines, Parrella adds.

Using GTSystem helps keep energy costs in areas with Residual Oil and Gas In Place ("ROIP") low while minimizing the negative environmental impacts, buying time for renewable energy technologies to develop and eventually reach a point where renewables can provide stable baseload power.

"The energy transition can be daunting to economies that have developed on hydrocarbon fuel sources," Parrella says. "In the quest to reach net zero, many jurisdictions have put in place bans on building new coal and natural gas power plants, but what about existing power plants? GTherm has developed a way to capture and sequester the CO2 emitted in the exhaust, allowing these plants to operate and contribute to economic development while achieving NetZeroNow®."

This post was authored by an external contributor and does not represent Benzinga’s opinions and has not been edited for content. The information contained above is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and nothing contained herein should be construed as investment advice. Benzinga does not make any recommendation to buy or sell any security or any representation about the financial condition of any company.

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