Working with NTNU in Trondheim, Norway

My name is Monica Garcia and I am in the final stage of my PhD, in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, at the University of Surrey. My research is focused on the chemical absorption for CO2 capture. I was privileged to be part of the UKCCSRC International Research Collaboration Fund award to Professor Sai Gu (University of Surrey) in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

Norway has strongly demonstrated over the last few years their commitment Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), expanding a wide range of activities. Specifically, NTNU, has focused their research in CCS on many projects, funded by the Research Council of Norway, the industry, and the European Union. Their work is concentrated along two axes, one studying CO2 capture from gases from power plants and the iron and steel-making industry; and the other directed toward the removal of acid gases from natural gas.

Partnering up with NTNU, we were fortunate to receive funding from the UKCCSRC International Research Collaboration Fund. Thanks to this funding and with support from the University of Surrey, we have collaborated with NTNU during a one-year period, working with Hanna Knuutila. Thanks to this collaboration, we have integrated both research groups.

This collaboration had one objective: to get an enhanced CO2 absorption. We focused our experimental plan on new solvents and we also used simulation models for the process predictions. That´s why the combination of the process engineering and chemistry were essential for this project.

I arrived in September 2015 and still the weather was similar to England, although it didn’t take much time to change. I was sharing an office with colleagues from Turkey, Greece and Brazil and I really enjoyed our talks and breaks.

Firstly, I received training in health & safety in the lab. I think one of the personal results from this experience was also to become more aware of dangers associated with chemicals for CO2 capture.  I had all the tools and support to avoid any damage in the lab and, at the minimum suspicion, colleagues and the people in charge answered really fast. In addition, we had health & safety meetings every two weeks, to inform about any issue related to the lab. We carried out the safety and risk plan associated to my lab work and then, we can start our validations. It was needed to be sure that our innovative work was supported by trustful results. Fortunately, the validations were effective and we started our experimental plan soon.

Also during the first months, I attended the “Gas Separation” module together with other students from NTNU and we learned about other separation technologies and the normative associated. I was part of a group project to study the last IPCC report and it was interesting, since this is one of the main reference documents for climate change and solutions. We had a successful presentation of the results of our assignment and we also attended other talks given by our module´s colleagues.

Soon, the streets became white and I had to be careful to walk without falling down. One of the lessons learnt was how you must manage your equilibrium because even when you don’t see the ice, it can be under the snow. Personally, it was a daily challenge.

We reached -20ºC and with few hours of natural light but the Christmas season arrived and the city was soon really nice decorated. I was so grateful of being part of so many department celebrations where we enjoyed traditional food. Also during the spring and summer it was possible to do some hiking around the city and explore the natural views. I was impressed about the Norwegian culture.

Although I worked previously in laboratories, this experience exceeded my expectations and we obtained great outcomes. Part of the results will be shown during the GHGT13.

It was really interesting to be part of the group of Hanna, where we presented our results weekly, generating fruitful talks and inputs to each other. 

Apart from the work, one of the habits I want to import is that, every Friday, we stopped working to have a cup of coffee/tea with a piece of cake that one of us baked. I think it is a nice tradition where we discover fantastic chefs. Also my visit concluded with a huge pretzel cake. We will continue this collaboration and we will see each other soon.

During this year, we have learnt very much about Chemical Absorption. This trip has given us interesting discussions and inspiration for future projects. I want to thank the UKCCSRC, Associate Professor Hanna Knuutila, Professor Sai Gu and all the team in NTNU for this collaboration.