Aug 19, 2017

Big Data in Oil and Gas: How to Avoid the Big Myth

Vimal Kapur, President and CEO...
4 min
Vimal Kapur
Even though the oil and gas industry isn’t in the difficult times of 2015, demands on the industry have never been greater. A host of factors are i...

Even though the oil and gas industry isn’t in the difficult times of 2015, demands on the industry have never been greater. A host of factors are increasing costs, reducing revenues and creating new risk management issues for operating companies. Adding to those concerns is greatly heightened regulatory oversight and public scrutiny of environmental and safety risk.

All of this is taking place in the age of big data. The idea of a connected world and a connected industry has held great promise for quite some time, but the major challenge facing the industry is how to truly harness the power of that data. Development of the Industrial Internet has provided new opportunities for oil and gas businesses to lower the cost of operations and improve safety, but in order to most effectively maintain profitability and maximize return on investment (ROI), that data needs to be combined with the right expertise.

There is a school of thought that companies can collect lots of data and let an algorithm do the work to come up with a magic solution. This may be a good vision for the long term, but in the near term it cannot work. For companies to leverage the true power of big data – whether it’s oil and gas, chemical, pulp and paper or other industries – the data must be combined with a layer of expert domain knowledge. After all, the best software in the world is only as good as the humans who wrote it.

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The issue for the process industry is not a lack of data, but how to make use of the vast data that already exists to generate a meaningful impact on operations and overall business performance. What is different today is we can securely transfer data from the asset/plant to a centralised location (the cloud) and we have immense processing capability. Experts in the operations of these plants and assets are constantly monitoring the real-time data, making predictions on any unplanned events using various tools and offering real time advice to eliminate unplanned shutdowns, improve safety and enhance productivity. Multiple plants and facilities can be connected to the cloud, so the experts have a true global view that adds to the knowledge base. This, in effect, makes the entire system self-learning, and the benefits are translated to everyone. This is something that is available today and helping oil and gas and other process industries to drive better reliability, uptime and safety performance.

Industrial organisations also have a big opportunity to leverage vast data that exists in various plant and business systems to drive a data-driven decision culture. In each customer site, there are vast data repositories in applications such as the plant’s ERP system, real time historian, Excel sheets, maintenance systems and others that track actual plant/asset performance in real time. Solutions exist today that can leverage these vast sources of data and build enterprise-level dashboards to drive superior performance of the assets. This approach drives a culture of making decisions based on data in every asset/plant and aligns all stakeholders to common business objectives to drive more production, improved safety and lower cost.

Experience shows that the industrial internet of things (IIoT) enables transformation of nearly all industries. A connected enterprise significantly enhances decision-making, increases security and productivity as well as improves overall collaboration by providing the right information at the right time, to help optimise operations. In addition to ensuring the right data is captured and the right experts are providing analysis, companies should keep a few other things in mind when implementing their IIoT setup. First, they need to understand the value of visibility into processes and facilities. They also need to correctly identify measurements that would advance plant visibility. Thirdly, the companies should engage the workforce in the identification and implementation of these new metrics. Finally, the companies should clearly develop a shared path to success with IIoT vendors and suppliers.

In the end, industrial organisations across the globe are requiring better solutions to compete in an unpredictable market. New capabilities such as digitisation and the cloud hold great promise. But it is critical that it is done in the right way. Using data for the sake of using data won’t help anyone, because there is no substitute for good, old-fashioned expertise. When that expertise is combined with the data, along with clear and thought-out goals, the potential is limitless.

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Jul 26, 2021

Form Energy receives funding power for iron-air batteries

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Startup Form Energy receives $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund to further develop iron-air batteries

Form Energy believes it has cracked the conundrum of commercialising grid storage through iron-air batteries - and some of the biggest names in industry are backing its potential.

The startup recently announced the battery chemistry of its first commercial product and a $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is backed by investors Eni Next LLC, MIT’s The Engine, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and Macquarie Capital.

While solar and wind resources are the lowest marginal cost sources of electricity, the grid faces a challenge: how to manage the multi-day variability of renewable energy, even in periods of multi-day weather events, without sacrificing energy reliability or affordability.

Moreover, while Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, they run out of energy after just a few hours. Iron-air batteries, however, are predicted to have theoretical energy densities of more than 1,200 Wh/kg according to Renaissance of the iron-air battery (

The active components of Form Energy's iron-air battery system are some of the cheapest, and most abundant materials: iron, water, and air. Iron-air batteries are the best solution to balance the multi-day variability of renewable energy due to their extremely low cost, safety, durability, and global scalability.

It claims its first commercial product is a rechargeable iron-air battery capable of delivering electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants and at less than 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion and can be optimised to store electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants.

"This product is our first step to tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonisation: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather, grid outages, or periods of low renewable generation," it states.

Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder of Form Energy, said it conducted a broad review of available technologies and has reinvented the iron-air battery to optimise it for multi-day energy storage for the electric grid. "With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather or grid outages," he said.

Form Energy and ArcelorMittal are working jointly on the development of iron materials which ArcelorMittal would non-exclusively supply for Form’s battery systems. Form Energy intends to source the iron domestically and manufacture the battery systems near where they will be sited. Form Energy’s first project is with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy, located near the heart of the American Iron Range.

Greg Ludkovsky, Global Head of Research and Development at ArcelorMittal, believes Form Energy is at the leading edge of developments in the long-duration, grid-scale battery storage space. "The multi-day energy storage technology they have developed holds exciting potential to overcome the issue of intermittent supply of renewable energy."

Investors in Form Energy's November 2020 round included Energy Impact Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners III, and Temasek.

In May 2020, it signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, MN. Great River Energy is Minnesota's second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the US.

Last week Helena and Energy Vault announced a strategic partnership to identify additional opportunities for Energy Vault’s waste remediation technologies as the company begins deployment of its energy storage system worldwide. It received new investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) in June.

Maoneng has revealed more details of its proposed 240MWp / 480MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in Australia (click here).

The BESS represents hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that will improve electricity grid reliability and network stability by drawing energy from the grid during off-peak periods for battery storage, and dispatching energy to the grid during peak periods. 

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