Exploring Cutting-Edge Research and Career Insights: UKCCSSRC Awayday at Brunel University (Ibrahim Kadafur)

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In the realm of groundbreaking research and academic exploration, the UKCCSSRC organized a stimulating and collaborative awayday at Brunel University on November 15th 2023. This enriching session brought together Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from diverse backgrounds, fostering an environment ripe for the exchange of innovative ideas, sharing of research endeavours, and valuable insights into career paths within the field of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The day commenced with an engaging group exercise designed to ignite collaborative thinking and brainstorming. ECRs were presented with thought-provoking questions centered around CCS, encouraging them to share their visionary ideas and strategies. This exercise not only stimulated creative thinking but also facilitated the sharing of varied perspectives and approaches among the attendees.

Following this interactive session was the compelling “3-Minute PhD Thesis Presentation.” A cohort of talented PhD researchers took the stage, offering concise yet comprehensive glimpses into their pioneering works. Each presentation encapsulated the depth and significance of their research, highlighting the innovative solutions and contributions being made in the realm of CCS.

Roberto Loza delivering his 3-Minute Thesis presentation

Moreover, the event featured some distinguished UKCCSSRC members who shared their enlightening career journey. This segment was a treasure trove of wisdom for the attending ECRs, as the speakers imparted valuable advice gleaned from their experiences. Insightful narratives about challenges overcome, milestones achieved and pivotal career decisions made for an inspiring and educational session. The discussion offered a roadmap for navigating the complex landscape of academia and research in the field of CCS.

Throughout the Awayday, the spirit of collaboration and knowledge exchange was palpable, fostering an atmosphere conducive to learning and networking. The event not only provided a platform for sharing cutting-edge research but also emphasized the importance of mentorship and guidance for burgeoning researchers in the field.

CCS Career Pathway Session: From L-R – Carys Blunt (UKCCSRC), Chet Biliyok (Petrofac), Lydia Rycroft (DESNZ) and Salman Soltani (Brunel University)

The diversity of backgrounds among the ECRs in attendance added a rich tapestry of perspectives, contributing to the vibrant discussions and exchange of ideas. The event served as a testament to the UKCCSSRC’s commitment to nurturing and empowering the next generation of researchers in carbon capture and storage. Information on next events organised by UKCCSRC was delivered alongside the closing remarks by Carys Blunt, the UKCCSRC Finance and Centre Manger, who chaired the session all through along with her colleagues, Rachel Money and Helen Gregory.

In conclusion, the UKCCSSRC’s awayday at Brunel University was a resounding success, characterized by collaborative engagement, insightful discussions and the celebration of pioneering research in CCS. It encapsulated the essence of fostering a community-driven approach towards tackling the challenges of carbon capture and storage while guiding and inspiring the future leaders and innovators in this critical field.

Ibrahim Kadafur, Heriot-Watt University

The UKCCSRC recently supported five ECRs to attend the International Summer School in “Global Just Transition: Equity in Net Zero” led by UKERC, in conjunction with the UKCCSRC and others.  David Eshun (University of Chester), Tolulope Falope (Cranfield University), Idris Bukar (Imperial College, London), Oyinebielador Derrick Odondiri (University of Southampton) and Jaqueline de Oliveira Brotto (Imperial College, London) share their experiences and insights into what was clearly an incredible week!

L-R: Derrick, David, Jaqueline, Tolulope and Idris

The International Summer School in “Global Just Transition: Equity in Net Zero” took place on 19-23th June 2023, in Newcastle (UK). The event aimed to unite international researchers from different areas – engineering, politics, law and social sciences – in training and development activities, all with a common goal: to discuss the global implementation of Net Zero. The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) was responsible for the organization together with seven other research consortia and institutions: HI-ACTSupergen Energy Networks Hub, Energy Transitions Centre CambridgeIDLES, Faraday Institution, CREDS, UKCCSRC and Energy Research Accelerator. During the week, attendees were able to participate in lectures, networking, poster presentations, technical visits and the challenge of proposing scenarios for Developing a Green Growth Strategy for Zambia.

Day 1 – Monday 19th June – by David Eshun

The weather on the first day was refreshing and the city of Newcastle was welcoming with some magnificent architectural works. After the initial registration and exchange of pleasantries among participants, the International Summer School commenced with a welcoming address, which spelt out the activities lined up for the week and underscored the need for a fair and just transition. Two presentations were made about the journey of energy transitions in Scotland and those of Ghana, outlining some successes made, challenges and the possibility of attaining net zero carbon in the timeframes set. There was an exposé on a Equity, Diversity and Inclusion tool, known as the “EDI Cube”, a necessary tool that could be used in future projects.

A session on communication skills then talked about the importance of communicating one’s research effectively to the appreciation of the target audience, without suffering the plague of the “curse of knowledge”. The last session of the day was a panel discussion on “What to Look for in a Pitch”. The speakers shared their experiences and practical ways they’ve dealt with challenges in their careers.

 

 

Day 2 – Tuesday 20th June – by Tolulope Falope

Global Equity: Knowledge Exchange Showcase – The first session focused on knowledge exchange. Dr. Ala’a Shehabi, the chair of the panel, gave some background and an introduction. The first speaker, Prof. Karen Henwood, spoke about mobilising energy and industrial decarbonisation transition trajectories in FLEXIS. She also spoke about some of the methodologies her team were adopting in the case study of Port L’Hebert, and the advantages of working in a transdisciplinary research team.

Dr. Felix Dorn focused on Ethnographic field research on Lithium mining in Latin America, particularly in Argentina. He focused on the impact of this mining on indigenous people. A resistance in the form of a 33-community assembly kicked out against mining, highlighting its effect on water in the area. Dr. Felix emphasised using a subjective approach (neutrality, information sharing and mutual learning), while engaging with the locals for 11 months on-site. He talked about methodological pluralism, using interviews, standard questionnaires, photography and videography in his research. Dr. Felix filmed a documentary called “Bajo La Sal”, to highlight the realities of mining as part of his scholar activism. He also organised classes for the locals to help them understand the value chain of Lithium so that they are better informed during negotiations with the mining companies.

Thembi Luckett spoke on developing feminist and creative collaborations in South Africa.  Marapong, in South Africa, is a location that has coal deposits for coal-powered plants in the region. Thembi and her team used “Body Mapping” to show the effects of coal mining on women, culminating in a body mapping exhibition. She then introduced two locals she is working with: Cleopatra and Francisca. Cleopatra spoke about “energy racism” and the fact that even though the region produces coal mining to fuel the power station, the inhabitants don’t have access to electricity. Her work also highlighted the impacts on local businesses because electricity is critical to scaling and sustaining businesses. She made a plea for researchers to engage directly with issues on the ground and not from their offices or behind laptops. Francisca gave the background of her area, stating it was a prominent farming district. But that all changed when the miners arrived. The power plant that was constructed, the fourth biggest in the hemisphere, had little impact on the locals because they had no access to the electricity. She mirrored a lot of Cleopatra’s points on collaboration between academics and end users. She also spoke about the difficulties in accessing finance and her difficulty in getting a visa to present her findings at the Summer School.

Abiba Mayaki Diallo was unable to speak because of her remote location but a representative spoke on her behalf. The NGO she works with, Kana Donse Fanyi, is a national organisation founded in 1992 to contribute to the fight against malnutrition and poverty by reducing food waste through conserving agricultural products. Their objectives include training local women on how to process, conserve, produce and market their agricultural products. They educate households on healthy diets and creating healthy baby food. Their core net zero vision is reducing food waste and encouraging people to adopt a healthy diet. Their current project, funded by Alcoa Foundation, aims to increase food security, and reduce food waste in the mining area. In the project, 45 women are divided in groups of 15 and trained on optimising food process to reduce waste. A processing unit, a solar dryer and a cereal grinding mill have been installed by the project sponsor. This project also supports 412 children. She highlighted limited access to financing, exchange with scientists and access to other technology as barriers to transition to net zero. She concluded that food drying is essential in reducing food waste.

Academic Session – At this point, we had a break and split into two groups for the next session. The academic session had two topics: Industrial Energy System Integration and Flexibility, and Industrial Decarbonisation. I attended the former where Dr. Meysam Qadrdan spoke on maximising flexibility through energy systems integration. He started by focusing on how balancing supply and demand is key for maintaining the system frequency. The National Grid is obliged to maintain the frequency within 1%. If demand is greater than supply, frequency goes below 50 Hz and vice versa. Traditionally, demand has been driven by consumer consumption. Dr. Meysam concluded that we must have flexibility in supply and demand to maintain a stable grid. He was followed by Dr. Padriag Lyon who spoke on the International Energy Research Centre’s (IERC) climate action plan work in Ireland. The Climate Action Plan 2023 aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050 and a reduction of 51% by 2030. He also drew a contrast between the UK and Ireland, with the former having a grid system peak of 55 GW while Ireland peaks at 5.7 GW. With a clear mapping of Ireland’s assets, limitations and expertise, Dr. Padriag gave us a clear road map to achieve net-zero unique to Ireland.

Site Visit to DER Industrialisation Centre – Our team went on a visit to the Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) North-East Industrialisation Centre. It was riveting and Professor Derrick Holliday talked us through a lot of the machines installed on-site. He explained what each machine does and how they can be used to scale production while reducing manufacturing lead times. It was interesting to see how their approach in perfecting the manufacturing process covers testing, design and validation for many businesses using power electronics, machines, and electronic drives.

 

Networking Event: Poster Session – The day ended with participants showcasing their research in a poster presentation. We were given enough time to engage with researchers and quiz them on their work. The posters were diverse and reflected a broad spectrum of competencies centred around energy. In all, it was a very information-packed filled day, and I was glad that I got to attend.

     

Day 3 – Wednesday 21st June – by Idris Bukar

Wednesday began with a session on building international partnerships in the journey to global equity in Net Zero. Experiences were shared by speakers from diverse organisations including Energy Research Accelerator/HyDEX and Love the Oceans, a non-profit marine conservation organisation. This was followed by an interactive session where the participants explored alternative social theories for equity, justice and sustainability in the energy transition. The session involved setting the scene by the chair, Rihab Khalid (University of Cambridge), followed by discussions in groups in response to prompts.

     

The session then broke into two parallel academic sessions – one on addressing energy demand and economics, and the other discussing energy governance and environmental justice. The highlight of the session on energy demand was an analysis of electricity demand data, showing a real example of how electricity demand varied on a particular day in the UK, including how a football match involving England produced distinct patterns in the energy demand curve.

It was on this day as well that the capstone team project for the Summer School was introduced: developing a green growth strategy for Zambia. The session began with an introduction to thinking about future scenarios in social and technical systems. The socio-economic and energy context of Zambia was presented to provide a good background and inform any strategies to be developed as to how they would interact with the realities on the ground. A green growth context was also presented, highlighting Zambia’s current efforts to transition to a green economy. The session was chaired by Katherine Sugar (University of Edinburgh), and the scenario was presented by Nick Hughes (UCL). Experts in the room who provided the socio-economic, energy and green growth context of Zambia included Bernard Tembo (Tec Analytics Zambia) and Mulima Nyambe‑Mubanga (Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research).

Site visits continued, with groups of participants visiting the Industrialisation Centre and Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory (InTEGReL), a fully integrated whole energy systems development and demonstration facility. InTEGReL is accelerating the hydrogen market in the North of England by producing low carbon energy for electricity, transportation and gas. The site visit included going to a demonstration house where hydrogen is used for cooking, heating and other domestic uses.

The final session for the day was one on the importance of networking, highlighting key techniques. The session was chaired by Elizabeth Adams (Scafell Coaching).

Day 4 – Thursday 22th June – by Oyinebielador Derrick Odondiri

On Thursday, students embarked on a collaborative project focused on the task and problem clinic introduced the day before. We were privileged to have experts from academia, industry and the Ministry of Green Energy in Zambia deliver presentations that shed light on the challenges ahead. These presentations and ensuing discussions opened our minds to think beyond our technical backgrounds, urging us to consider inclusion and just transitions in relation to the roles of the Government, international donor agencies, energy utilization, transportation, agriculture, the influence of politics and other key actors in Zambia.

To kick-start our brainstorming process, we were divided into ten groups. Each group was assigned the task of developing a green growth strategy for Zambia by 2063. Additionally, we were given the assignment of preparing a 2-3 page brief addressing the question: “How can the transformation of the energy system between now and 2063 contribute to a just transition in Zambia?” We were also encouraged to create a presentation for the Ministry, which we were scheduled to deliver the following day.

Later in the day, we engaged in a session focused on building career skills and developing our research identities. This session was truly inspiring as it provided us with an opportunity to connect with each other, both in person and via LinkedIn. We delved into various barriers that hinder students from establishing meaningful connections.

The day concluded with a delightful silent disco and dinner party at the Vermont Hotel. As we savoured the delicious meals, our minds were already occupied with thoughts of the upcoming presentations scheduled for 9:00am the next day.

Day 5 – Friday 23th June – by Jaqueline de Oliveira Brotto

On the last day of the Summer School, we had the presentation of scenarios for Developing a Green Growth Strategy for Zambia. In total, 10 groups participated, and each group had five minutes to present their strategy. At the end of the presentations, the jury gathered to elect the best groups in three different categories: presentation/pitch, briefing and both.

Initially, the five best posters exhibited during the International Summer School were elected, followed by the awarding of the groups on Strategy for Zambia. The best pitch/presentation category went to group 5, which presented hybrid approach scenarios that included green, inclusive and flexible, presenting the project in short-, mid- and long-term. The best briefing category went to group 3 who presented the scenarios: “Human-centric, welfare approach – rural development via PV mini-grids and biomass to energy” and “Industrial diversification – green economy growth and decent employment”. Finally, the category of best briefing and best presentation/pitch went to group 7, which presented the scenarios entitled: “Solar Powered Rural Zambia” and “Biomass for the Masses”. It was five days of much-shared knowledge, lectures, visits, networking and brainstorming. The knowledge and experience shared and acquired during those days were invaluable. Thank you to all involved.

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.

Australia

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.

Ghent

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 (www.pprogress.ugent.be) 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.

Presentations

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