Four Weeks at the National Institute Of Electricity and Clean Energy (Ineel), Mexico

Written by Carolina Font Palma, who is a Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Chester and received funding to spend four weeks at the National Institute of Electricity and Clean Energy (INEEL) from the UKCCSRC International Research Collaboration Fund.

Going back home is always exciting, and on this occasion it had the added bonus to visit ‘ever spring’ Cuernavaca, Mexico and join researchers working with Dr Zdzislaw Mazur at INEEL. This research visit was first planned with Abigail Gonzalez Díaz, who I met while she was doing her PhD at the University of Edinburgh during UKCCSRC meetings and has recently returned to her home Institution as researcher.

On my first week, I met with Dr Jose Luis Franco, Dr Zdzislaw Mazur and Abigail Gonzalez to discuss the scope and outcomes of my visit. The main goal of this visit was the planning of the design of experiments for the microturbine recently installed and its integration with the coming CO2 capture plant. The microturbine has the flexibility of using different types of fuels, and a number of decisions are needed for the design and sizing of the CO2 capture plant, e.g. its location and amount of fuel gases to treat.

I spent the next days meeting colleagues that work within the Turbomachinery group, who have vast experience on gas turbines and power plants; and I had the chance of peeking inside the interior of some machines. I managed to get my way around the Institute and the different lab facilities, which are located on a hill with so many stairs to climb.  I was impressed by the size of the Institute, its gardens and delicious food. To gather information for the design of experimental campaigns via process simulation, I toured around the lab-size carbon capture columns and had a demonstration of its operation by Alan Zavala and Jordan, and saw the microturbine with Pablo Díaz. On the third week, I gave a presentation on ‘Low Carbon Technologies’ to share my work done on gasification and carbon capture, which raised interesting questions and discussion.

This visit was very rewarding because I met new collaborators and we had numerous opportunities to discuss joint publications. Results of our work should be available shortly. For future international collaboration, the mechanisms to make it happened were identified thanks to the support of Betsai Mendoza and Laura Becerra at the International Relations Office led by Nora Pérez.

I would like to give especial thanks to Dr Zdzislaw Mazur, Abigail Gonzalez and Dr Jose Luis Franco for their warm welcoming. To Hipólito Romero for his interest in collaborating and sharing his work, and Santiago Jiménez, María Magdalena Morales, Alejandro Arriola and Angel Méndez for their enthusiastic chats to find common research areas, and Luis Enrique for his friendly presence. I had a great time and everyone (forgive me those that I missed to name) that I met reminded me of the great Mexican spirit. I hope that we will continue working together in future projects and get the opportunity to look closely the progress on Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) in Mexico.

Finally, I would like to thank the UKCCSRC for making possible this trip to INEEL in Cuernavaca, Mexico by providing the UKCCSRC International Research Collaboration Fund.