The University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research (UCFER) – September 2016 Edinburgh Biannual

This blog was written by Jinyu Liu who is a PhD student at the University of Kent and received funding to attend the Edinburgh Biannual Meeting from the UKCCSRC ECR Meeting Fund.

Invited by UKCCS research centre and introduced by Professor Jon Gibbins, Professor Chunshan Song gave a remarkable presentation titled ‘University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research (UCFER) Funded by US DOE NETL – Vision, Mission and Operation’ on the first day of the Edinburgh Biannual meeting. During his speech, he firstly gave a plenary introduction on the University Coalition for Fossil Energy Research (UCFER) and then culminated with an example of CO2 capture and utilization research which achieved 2~3 times better performance than the existing technology used in industry.

Professor Song started his speech by clarifying some misunderstanding about both fossil energy and renewable energy. Using fossil energy is not ‘throwing home furniture into the fire place’ but it is a key to build the bridge to the future as many fossil energy technologies can be translated to or are directly applicable to developing renewable energy technologies such as coal to biomass, natural gas to biogas, reforming of fossil fuels to biomass reforming, and etc.

This then lead to his first key point—the vision of UCFER: a clean carbon-based secure, reliable and affordable energy future with the more environmentally-friendly and more efficient production/use of fossil fuels including carbon (CO2) capture, storage and use/re-use. It is important to continue fossil energy R&D as it paved the way for the carbon-based sustainable energy technologies while mitigating climate change due to greenhouse gas.

He continued with the second key point—the mission of UCFER: to advance the basic and applied energy research; to promote university – NETL collaboration on coal, natural gas, and oil research involving NETL core competencies; to identify, select, execute, review and disseminate knowledge from university based research that will improve the efficiency of production and usage of fossil energy resources while minimizing the environmental impacts and reducing greenhouse gas emissions including carbon (CO2) capture, storage and utilization.

He then went through the UCFER organization hierarchy shown below and explained to the audience the members and roles of each composition inside UCFER. When it came to the introduction of the 6 years $20M DOE funding, he commented that the $20M is hopefully only a base funding and indicated more investment would be possible as the project goes on.  

At last, he elaborated future directions for UCFER and described an example of CO2 capture and utilization research at Pennsylvania State University—Molecular Basket Sorbents for CO2 Capture. This technique performs 2~3 times better than current industrial application and has been successfully demonstrated for CO2 capture from gas mixtures in a bench scale fluidized transport plant under DOE NETL support in 2015.

**Available presentations from the meeting can be found on the Edinburgh Biannual event page.**