Case study: Hisham Al-Baroudi’s collaboration with the University of Tokyo

Here we talk to Hisham Al-Baroudi, an ECR member from Cranfield University, who used the funding he secured through our 2018 ECR Collaboration fund to collaborate with researchers at the University of Tokyo, on technology around the CCS shipping chain.

Hi Hisham, looks like you had a really useful trip to Japan. By way of introduction: what was the context for your collaboration?

My international collaboration was in the context of CO2 transportation systems, and specifically aimed at understanding safety considerations during real CO2 shipping operations for CCUS. The work focused on empirically investigating the discharge behaviour of liquid carbon dioxide from a marine loading arm during an emergency shutdown.

In terms of challenges you hoped to address, why did you choose your particular collaboration partner? What key problems did you hope to overcome prior to the collaboration/research, or ideas you wanted to prove? Any previous research that you were building on (either successful or unsuccessful)? What were your key decision points and how did you approach these decisions? What would happen if no solution to the problem was found?

Cranfield University is one of few institutions in the UK that focus on both experimental and logistic studies of CO2 shipping for CCUS. For this reason, it seemed obvious that engaging with international institutions would help us in building a network to address technical challenges with a global prospective and increase the impact of our work. Japan is the country that first introduced the concept of sea vessel as a transportation solution for CCUS, with studies and reports of paramount importance being produced by both industry and academia. The research group led by Prof Masahiko Ozaki at University of Tokyo is therefore among the leading global experts on this technology and its implementation.

At Cranfield University, we avail of laboratory scale facilities for our empirical investigations on safety and performance relating to the shipping chain. As part of this aim, a UKCCSRC PACT facility has been commissioned to explore technical challenges and safety implications involved with the novel concept of sea vessel transport of CO2 near the triple point. Throughout our correspondence, our colleagues at University of Tokyo discussed about an upcoming project by the Ministry of Environment of Japan to investigate safety measures during marine loading operations in real-scale experiments, as part of the efforts to advance towards commercialisation of CCUS. They expressed that they would welcome having me collaborating in this project, as the area and nature of this work was closely related to my PhD project. This came about around the same time that UKCCSRC issued a call for international collaborations, so we all decided to apply for it in order to collaborate in this project, given the strong link between my PhD project (funded by EPSRC) and the nature of this project.

This project represented the opportunity to take my PhD work from lab scale to a full-scale investigation, whilst still focusing on understanding the nature and implications of loss of containment in the chain. As the project involved global leaders and manufactures of marine loading arms (Tokyo Boeki Engineering) for several industries (LNG, LPG and CCUS potentially for the future) a high level of expertise was present. Our respective research expertise matched perfectly to deliver this multi-disciplinary project. Tokyo Boeki designed and commissioned this real scale test facility thanks to their long-standing experience.

This collaboration indeed came with its own set of technical challenges. Our research group committed to design and implement the experimental acquisition tools in the best possible way to acquire extensive information and investigate the behaviour of the release. The ultimate goal was to have an in-depth understanding of the phenomena to provide useful inputs for the development of safety measures aimed at preserving the integrity of people, equipment and the environment at all times. In the end, the efforts and expertise of our multi-disciplinary group allowed us to be extremely satisfied with the findings and results.

Now, more about those findings: what did you discover? Any outputs you can share?

Our investigation allowed us to observe and understand in detail the behaviour of liquid CO2 discharge at different conditions. We believe our findings will provide a very useful input for the development of process safety in future CO2 shipping and CCUS projects. As no consensus has yet been achieved in relation to the conditions that future shipping projects should adopt, our work can provide an indication of the process safety implications of two potential operating conditions for future CCUS shipping projects.

Our research group has submitted two abstract for oral presentation at the GHGT conference which will take place later on this year. One discusses the

design features, challenges and observation techniques related to the construction and implementation of a full-scale facility. The other discusses the empirical findings of our experiments, in order to understand the behaviour of liquid CO2 during emergency shutdowns.

Let’s talk about the impact of your results: why was this collaboration the right choice for you and your research? What did the partner institution get out of it? What do you think it will to do advance CCS research and implementation? Does it have impact for industry?

This collaboration has added great value to my doctoral studies and my early career development as a whole. It allowed me to enhance my skills and experience of what it means to implement full-scale experiments which I previously performed on laboratory scale.  Not only did I have the privilege to work with a leading academic institution in Japan, but I also had the opportunity to learn how a project involving collaboration between industry and academia is delivered throughout its stages. The involvement of an industrial partner such as Tokyo Boeki Engineering, which designs and manufactures marine loading solutions exported globally for a variety of industries, has proven that our project had a strong link and relevance to industry as a whole.

Both Cranfield University and The University of Tokyo wish this to be the first of a long-standing relationship of professional collaborations: we share the view that CCUS is a global issue, and technical challenges should therefore be addressed in cooperation.

We believe our work provides some invaluable information on how real operations are performed in CO2 shipping projects, and we reckon findings will be particularly useful for future developments of safety protocols and emergency procedures.

In the existing literature, investigations related to mechanical failure and release of inventory during CO2 transportation have been mainly linked to pipeline systems, therefore our work represent a ground-breaking investigation for sea vessel transportation projects.

I would like to express my gratitude to Prof Masahiko Ozaki and Prof Ryota Wada – from the Ocean Technology, Policy and Environment department at University of Tokyo – for hosting me in their research group during this collaboration. Their patient guidance, strong expertise and warm welcome not only made me feel enthusiastic about this fantastic research opportunity, but it made me feel at home during my stay in Japan – a beautiful country with fantastic people. I would like to thank all my colleagues and friends at the Ozaki and Wada lab for providing a friendly environment and always lending me a hand when needed.

My gratitude also goes to Iwatomi-san and the engineers at Tokyo Boeki Engineering. Their globally leading expertise was invaluable during this collaboration, and I feel privileged to have been able to interact with the team working on this project at the company and bring my contribution.

Last but not least, I wish to thank my academic supervisor, Dr Kumar Patchigolla, for providing continuous guidance during my PhD project and supporting my participation to this international collaboration.

My gratitude goes to the Ministry of Environment of Japan for funding this project and UKCCSRC for funding my trip and enabling me to take part in it.

Thanks Hisham!

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