If you see a dark SUV with Nova Scotia license plates in southeast Saskatchewan, chances are they are from St. Francis Xavier University working as part of the Flux Lab.
David Risk, Ph. D. is the Altus Group Chair in Emissions Research at the school in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and is in charge of the project.
“The Flux Lab is a research group here in at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, where we work on new technologies for gas measurement,” Risk said to explain what the group does. “Sometimes we also try to help producers, oil and gas producers, undertake studies to understand their emissions footprint of various types.”
There are about 20 who work with the program, ranging from undergraduate students at the university those in graduate studies.
They have been working in the southeast for roughly a decade, in particular, south of Weyburn monitoring the sources of CO2 emissions, in particular as a result of enhanced oil recovery. They have been evaluating various measurement techniques in the process, as well as the levels themselves, hoping the CO2 is trapped in the micropores below the surface, and not leaking back to the surface. The Flux Lab has also been working at the Aquistore facility near the Boundary Dam power station.
Risk explained the CO2 does not migrate through faults and fractures to come back to the surface. The carbon dioxide is injected around three kilometres below ground at the Aquistore facilities, and near Weyburn, it is around a kilometre and a half down.
“The geology out there is like a layer cake, almost. It’s very mice layers, and very few faults actually move through the layers so there’s really good opportunity to trap that CO2 and at the surface we can measure quite effectively through a variety of techniques, whether it’s different types of tracers, geochemical tracers, or different monitoring instruments that we might drive around site, or might bring to a site that we carry in our hands,” Risk added.
As the Flux Lab is basically a measurement group, their main role is to help producers and regulators to understand what can be deployed rapidly for detecting methane emissions, especially with new regulations coming down from the federal government.
Until then, there is a chance you will see the Flux Lab in the area, working on measuring what emissions are seen in the area.