Scaling Up MOF Production (ECR Collaboration Fund)

Enrique Garcia

Dr Enrique Garcia is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RRCS) at Heriot-Watt University. Enrique received an award from the UKCCSRC ECR Collaboration Fund to travel to the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) in Swansea to optimize the scale-up of MOF production through a green rote synthesis for CO2 capture.

This project is focused on the optimization of the scale-up synthesis of MOFs for CO2 capture through a green route at room temperature and water. Nowadays, MOF synthesis is based on heating at pressures higher than atmospheric during a long period of time (more than one day). When the synthesis is scaled up the MOF properties are lost, and it is needed to identify the optimum synthesis conditions as the volume production increases in a commercially competitive way.

My work was divided into two parts. I carried out the first and main one in Swansea, in collaboration with Enrico Andreoli’s group at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI). There, I evaluated the reproducibility of the production of a specific MOF known as MIL-140 at a low scale (150 ml of volume). On this scale, I produced 4 grams of material. Once I probed the synthesis reproducibility, I evaluated the different synthesis conditions and their effect on the material properties trying to identify which ones give the best MOF with the best order structure and the closest CO2 isotherm to the theoretical one. Then, I moved to synthesize the MOF in 4 liters and a half, obtaining more than 120 grams in a short period of time considering the scale-up design of a batch reactor.

I met with external advisors from Italy as MOF synthesis experts to discuss the successful results and some unexpected conclusions.

Finally, I transferred 55 grams of the MOF synthesized at a high scale to Heriot-Watt, where I evaluated the CO2 capture at 400 C and under different CO2 concentrations, comparing the values with the ones obtained with the MOF produced under low-scale conditions and the reference material.

Enrique Garcia

The results obtained and the conclusions reached will be used for further studies and collaboration with a company. Furthermore, Swansea, Pisa and Heriot-Watt Universities are considering patenting the scale-up process. For this reason, no data and can be shared. However, it can be confirmed that an improvement of the scale-up process was found, allowing us to keep the CO2 capture capacities. Even more, it can be indicated that the green route, using tap water instead of deionized water, gives us a perfect MOF structure with a very competitive productivity (almost double the common commercial productivity).

This work will provide measurable improvements in the acceleration of the MOF high scale production in a commercial level. More specifically, individuals and institutions who work in adsorption systems, CO2 capture technologies and MOF production will benefit from the conclusions of this work. This collaboration will help to understand some uncertainties between the synthesis conditions at high scale and the MOF properties. This will improve the next MOF generation production accelerating their use in CCS technologies, which will benefit the CCS community members.

I would thank all my funders – UKCCSRC, RCCS, and ESRI – for making this collaboration possible. My full gratitude to Dr Enrico Andreoli for hosting me in their research group and for their help and great discussions. I also want to thank my line manager, Prof Susana Garcia at Heriot-Watt University, for her guidance and support with my participation in this study.

Attendees of the IEAGHG summer school 2022

Rory Leslie was supported by UKCCSRC to attend the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas (IEAGHG) Summer School – not a typo! – in Bandung, Indonesia from 27th November to 4th December.

This year’s IEAGHG Summer School in Bandung, Indonesia was the first in-person Summer School since 2019, when it was held in Regina, Canada. Many of this year’s students applied for the Summer School way back in 2019 and were excited to finally meet each other. A big thanks is due to Samantha Neades, the programme organiser, for bringing us all together after a difficult few years. Due to Covid-related postponements, the usual scheduling of July was replaced with late November-early December, but the title of ‘Summer School’ still felt appropriate, since Indonesia is hot all year round! This Summer School was especially significant for being the first ever hosted in Asia.

In total, 45 students from over 25 different countries attended, a talented and diverse group of early career researchers and young professionals who brought a wide range of different expertise. Almost half of the cohort came from Indonesia and Timor-Leste and were fantastic at providing a local and regional context to the event.

The Summer School was led by a world-renowned team of CCS experts: Tim Dixon (IEAGHG Director), Dr Katherine Romanak (University of Texas at Austin), Professor John Kaldi (University of Adelaide) and Dr Mohammad Rachmat Sule (Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), the Summer School host institution). The team was completed by mentors from the several of the sponsoring companies.

Presenting at the IEAGHG Summer School

Throughout the week we worked on group projects looking at the future of CCS. My group was tasked with answering the question “what role will CCS play in a low-carbon hydrogen economy?”

The Summer School covered all aspects of carbon capture and storage (CCS), including geoscience, capture technology, regulation, transportation and public perception. Many of the presentations were given by the faculty of ITB, including Dr Bonar Marbun, who gave an excellent talk on well integrity concerns in Indonesia. Remote presentations allowed us to learn from a range of global experts, such as Jen Wilcox from the US Department of Energy, who discussed the role of CO2 removal in the path to net-zero. During the week, a consensus emerged that there is a strong scientific and technological case for CCS, and that economic and social factors are the final hurdles before large scale deployment.

With its walkable neighbourhoods and cool mountain climate, Bandung was a very pleasant location for the summer school. ITB is a world-class STEM-focused university with a beautiful campus and the ITB student ambassadors were excellent hosts (special thanks to Amanda, Fery and Fiyya). Bandung is a historically significant place, as it was the location of the first Asian-African Conference in 1955. The role of CCS in emerging economies and south-south cooperation will be key themes in the coming decades.

Attendees of the IEAGHG summer school 2022

Bandung was great location for the Summer School and the students and staff at ITB made us feel incredibly welcome

We were lucky to have an end-of-week dinner and awards ceremony at the Savoy Homann Hotel, which hosted the world leaders of the historic Asian-African conference. Before the dinner, we were treated to a performance of gamelan music and traditional dance from ITB’s Balinese student society. The best summer school student awards were won by Katherine Beltrán Jiménez from the Norwegian Research Centre and Debanjan Chandra from Delft University of Technology. Great job guys!

Bandung and the surrounding area also provided excellent locations for field visits. We visited the Samator CO2 plant, which purifies CO2 from local oil and gas production and supplies it to the beverage industry and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. Another stop was the Jatibarang oil field, which uses the CO2 from the Samator CO2 plant. The Jatibarang CO2 EOR project is led by Pertamina, the Indonesia national energy company. The project is the first commercial demonstration of CO2 injection in Indonesia and is an important milestone on the way to large-scale CO­2 capture and storage in Indonesia.

Visitors at the Samator CO2 plant

The Samator CO2 plant was a great place to see CO2 purification and transport first-hand

Indonesia’s location on the geologically active ‘ring of fire’ was apparent throughout the trip. On Saturday 3rd December we visited the Kamojang geothermal field, also operated by Pertamina. The field taps into a vast geothermal resource associated with nearby volcanic activity. The Kamojang field is a great example of sustainable, low-carbon energy production. It shows the potential future of low-emissions energy in Indonesia, using the abundant geothermal resource alongside abated fossil fuels.

People walking through a steaming geothermal field

The Kamojang geothermal field is spread over a huge area of forest. We had the chance to visit many of the naturally occurring geothermal springs.

After six days of lectures, site visits and group work, we found time for some fun. Our hosts at ITB organised a final send off at the beautiful Kampung Sampireun resort. We stayed in luxury bungalows surrounding a lake in the West Java countryside. After learning some Indonesian dancing and taking part in team building games, we had our final dinner as a group, followed by karaoke and more dancing.

Two wooden boats being rowed

Boat racing on the lake was one of the activities at Kampung Sampireun

After a busy week, the 2022 IEAGHG Summer School cohort said their goodbyes. The event has been the best networking opportunity of my PhD and I have formed friendships which stretch across the world. I have also gained access to a wider network of over 550 alumni from the previous 13 Summer Schools, with this group of alumni representing a not-inconsiderable proportion of the global CCS talent pool. I am already arranging meet-ups with my fellow students, and discussing opportunities for future collaborations.

I want to take the opportunity to thank the IEAGHG organising committee for delivering a great event and UKCCSRC for their travel grant. I recommend that all PhDs, post-docs and young professionals working in CCS consider attending the IEAGHG Summer School. It was educational, a lot of fun and has given me connections that will undoubtedly have an ongoing positive impact on my career in CO2 storage.

Rory Leslie presenting

Rory Leslie is a PhD student researching geological CO2 storage at the University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences. Rory’s research is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Equinor ASA.

Photograph credits: ITB and IEAGHG

Catrin Harris, Imperial College London, with CSIRO Australia

When I applied for the UKCCSRC ECR Collaboration Fund in 2019, my initial aim was to visit Australia to collaborate with colleagues in CSIRO. At the end of the collaboration, I have yet to make it Down Under, however, I have met people from all over the world, performed international experiments and collaborated with colleagues from CSIRO, nonetheless.


Catrin Harris, Sharon Ellman and Sam Jackson

Catrin, Sharon Ellman (Ghent University) and Sam Jackson (CSIRO) together in the lab at Ghent University

Before we knew what the Covid-19 pandemic had in store, we started to make plans for a collaboration hosted in Australia. After meeting online for many weeks, we decided to focus on novel experiments for geological carbon storage, made possible through the shared use of equipment, expertise and facilities at Imperial College London (my home university) and CSIRO. For these experiments, we decided to apply for coveted synchrotron time at the Australian National synchrotron (ANSTO). The imaging and medical beamline (IMBL) at ANSTO would allow us to overcome traditional lab resolution constraints and capture, for the first time, the impact of heterogeneity on the dynamics of trapping at the cm-scale, with pore-scale resolution.

When we were awarded the synchrotron time, we knew we had to make the experiments happen despite the Covid-19 travel restrictions. The new plan became that I would set up the experimental rig and run simulations of the experiment here at Imperial College London. We could use our medical CT scanner to capture the average saturations, before conducting the same experiment with pore-scale resolution at the synchrotron. Once everything was up and running, I would then post the equipment to my collaborator at CSIRO in Australia, Dr Sam Jackson, where he and his team would carry out the experiments.

Surprisingly, everything went swimmingly well. Sam and his team put in a sterling effort running two 24-hour experimental campaigns at the Australian synchrotron. The data was then shared with me via the internet and, through many early morning Zoom sessions, we worked together to analyse the data.


There was still chance I would visit Australia but, once the Covid-19 travel restrictions ended, Sam came for his own international visit to Europe, beginning a collaboration at Ghent University in Belgium with Professor Tom Bultreys. The PProGRess ( group at Ghent are well known in the porous media community, both for their excellent research and state-of-the-art facilities. Sam and I decided one set of international experiments in Australia wasn’t enough and proceeded to plan another experimental campaign at Ghent University, using the in-house ‘Hector’ scanning facility to study the impact of large-scale heterogeneity at the pore-scale. This time the experiments would focus on cyclic injection with application to hydrogen storage also.

In October 2022, I visited Ghent University for two weeks to finally take part in our in-person collaboration. It was definitely worth the wait! Not only did I get to collaborate with Sam from CSIRO, but also meet the whole team at Ghent University. Sam and I worked with Sharon Ellman, a PhD student in the PProGRess group, to help prepare and carry out the experiments. It was great to have the opportunity to carry out experiments at another laboratory, to see their kit, imaging set up and post processing tools. I will use the data analysis skills and porous media knowledge in my own PhD work.

The experimental set up and Hector facilities at Ghent University


We spent many hours together in the lab, successfully carrying out the experiment and capturing the cyclic drainage and imbibition data. The results from these experiments will help to improve the predictability of field scale simulations. Heterogeneity is ubiquitous across storage sites worldwide, including the Otway site in Australia. Therefore, it is necessary to upscale and incorporate adjustments for heterogeneity in models of subsurface storage. I learnt a lot during my time in the lab, but the thing I am most likely to remember was the kindness shown to me by Sam and Sharon during our time together. Both introduced me to their families and hosted me for dinner, making me feel very welcome in Ghent. I hope our friendships and scientific collaborations last far into the future.


Catrin Harris presenting a poster

Catrin presenting her research poster at the Interpore BeNeLux chapter meeting

Whilst in Belgium, I was able to present my work to the team at Ghent University on two occasions. I presented my data analysis from the Australian synchrotron at both the departmental geology seminar and the broader Ghent University CT group seminar. I gained valuable insight into my work during the question and discussion sessions, which I will use in my future analysis. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to share my work and to exchange ideas with other experts in the field. Also, I attended the Interpore BeNeLux chapter meeting, which was being hosted in Belgium at the same time as my visit. I listened to many interesting talks on geological carbon and hydrogen storage, networked with the porous media community and presented my research poster.

What next?

Now that I am back at Imperial College London, the collaborations are still on-going. I am finalising the Australian synchrotron data analysis with Sam, hopefully writing this into a research paper very soon. I have also recently met with the PProGRess research group online to discuss recent work and to brainstorm on new research ideas. I have connected with a unique group of people with very similar research interests to me and know that this will be the start of many future collaborations. I also made many contacts, both at Ghent University and at the BeNeLux Interpore meeting, which I hope will be useful for future research questions and career opportunities.

I am thankful to have met so many wonderful people, to have visited such a beautiful country and to have learnt so much. Many thanks to Tom Bultreys for hosting me, Sharon Ellman for their friendship and laboratory expertise, and to Sam Jackson for everything he has taught me and for his help and support throughout my PhD. Thank you UKCCSRC for funding this collaboration – I am sure it is just the start!

The sixth and latest assessment on climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the deployment of large-scale Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies are “unavoidable” if the world is to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT) conference series is one of the largest CCS and CDR conferences in the world and was formed in 1997. This year several early career researchers (ECRs) from UKCCSRC member organisations travelled to Lyon, France, for the 16th iteration of the conference.

For many of us it was the first large in-person conference due to Covid. It was good to meet so many people working in this area in person. The week was packed with amazing talks from researchers (from ECRs to renowned professors), industrial stakeholders and policymakers. Additionally, each day began with two interesting keynotes from high-level speakers, and more than 300 posters were presented on digital screens in the exhibition area.

GHGT-16 co-chair Tim Dixon opening the conference on Monday

Attending ECRs for UKCCSRC were Chris Holdsworth and Rory Leslie (PhD students at the University of Edinburgh), Saja Albdairat and Mohammad Arishi (PhD students at the University of Sheffield), Fidal Bashir (PhD student at University College London), and Augustin Prado and Matthias Mersch (PhD students at Imperial College London).

Chris and Rory mainly followed the geological storage sessions at the conference. On Monday, Chris presented his research, using isotopes to track the fate of injected CO2 at the Carbfix mineral storage site in Iceland. Throughout the conference, we saw exciting themes emerging in the geological storage of CO2. These themes included mineralisation of CO2 to provide enhanced storage security, higher resolution reservoir monitoring using downhole fibre optics and the trapping of CO2 in heterogeneous reservoirs. On Thursday afternoon, Rory presented his research on CO2 dissolution trapping in natural analogues.

Rory (left) and Chris (right) presenting their work on Monday and Thursday respectively

Chris and Rory also attended the field trip on Friday to the natural CO2 springs in the Clermont-Ferrand area. This was an excellent location to visualise what CO2 leakage might look like, and to practice the environmental monitoring techniques needed to quantify surface CO2 flux. The trip also included a visit to a sparkling water bottling plant, a great example of the ‘utilisation’ part of CCUS. The 27°C temperature may have made for a great day out, but the unseasonable warmth was a timely reminder that the impacts of climate change are already with us and the need for emissions reductions has never been greater.


The natural CO2 spring at Saladis (left) and nearby carbonate precipitation due to CO2 degassing (right).

Saja presenting her work on advanced post-combustion capture process design

Saja and Mohammad were mainly interested in sessions on capturing the CO2 that can then be stored in Chris’ and Rory’s storage. Many different CO2 capture approaches were discussed at GHGT-16, including several sessions on post-combustion capture using different solvents such as Piperazine (PZ) and Monoethanolamine (MEA). The latter is often used as the benchmark solvent. However, it has two main drawbacks: high energy consumption, and high operating and capital cost. Athreya Suresh from the University of Texas gave a highlight talk showing the use of PZ to reduce the energy consumption of the stripper. Saja presented another potential solution: a process modification including a multi-absorber feed with inter-heating stripper. This setup shows great promise compared to the standard configuration, because it has lower specific re-boiler duty and requires a lower solvent flowrate to achieve similar capture levels.


Mohammad presenting his poster on improved solvents

Mohammad was fascinated by next-generation rotating packed bed absorber technology. The so-called ROTA-CAPTM, developed by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and Carbon Clean (CC) with US DOE funding, is a process intensification technology by mechanical force. Rotation of the packing increases the mass transfer between the contacting fluids. A preliminary techno-economic analysis based on bench-scale data suggests carbon capture at 90% removal rate can be achieved at $30/tCO2. Compared to conventional absorbers, the technology can potentially reduce the required gas contactor column height by 20% and equipment sizes by up to 50%, while also reducing reboiler duty and solvent degradation. Mohammad also presented a poster titled “Technical analysis of post-combustion carbon capture using K2CO3 for large-scale power plants through simulation”. His work shows that the specific re-boiler duty of the studied process can be reduced by using K2CO2 instead of MEA solvent, from 4.97 GJ/tCO2 to 3.45 GJ/tCO2.


Matthias presenting his poster on optimal deployment of CCS technologies and abatement in the UK

Augustin and Matthias were mainly following the system-level and policy sessions, as well as presentations from industrial stakeholders on real-world experience with CCS. Highlights included Brent Jacobs presenting long-term performance data from the Boundary Dam CCS project, showing good performance of the capture facility but challenges with the amount of flue gas that can be processed; Jasper Ros presenting learning from a commercial CCS plant in the Netherlands; and David Albarracin-Zaidiza introducing a steel-plant CCS project. Augustin presented his work on optimal deployment of negative emission technologies in the UK and interactions with the electricity system. Matthias presented a poster showing optimal deployment of BECCS and DAC, as well as abatement technologies, in the UK for different resource prices; as well as a CCS value chain optimisation model that optimises regional deployment of capture, transport and storage infrastructure.


Fidal presented his poster on the separation of compounds from carbon-containing off-gases in the steel industry


Fidal found the panel discussion on industrial decarbonisation in developing countries using CCUS particularly interesting. It was a high-level panel with different stakeholders operating in developing countries. It was encouraging to hear the progress made by both the government and private sector in ensuring that net zero is achieved, with countries like Nigeria already leading the way in planning the establishment of CCUS hubs.

Finally, it must be noted that Lyon is a beautiful city located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. In our time off, we enjoyed the famous French cuisine and explored the city. Highlights were the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the Roman amphitheatres which overlook the city, as well as the lively streets on the Presqu’île (almost-island) and in old-Lyon.  Thank you to the UKCCSRC for the support from their ECR Meeting Fund, it was a fantastic week.

View of the Rhône river in Lyon at night