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Carbon Capture And Storage Conference 2019: Fighting Climate Change Through CCS

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

We can’t fix climate change if we can’t find a way to take the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels out of the atmosphere. Top researchers from South Africa and the UK are meeting this week at UWC to explore ways of doing just that.

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Image credit: Nicklaus Kruger

(Published - 5 February 2019)

“The world needs more solutions to climate change. One such solution is carbon capture and storage (CCS) - a technical approach that’s particularly useful in fossil fuel dominated countries such as South Africa.”

There are the sentiments of Professor Salam Titinchi from the University of the Western Cape (UWC), speaking at the launch of the 2019 Carbon Capture & Storage  Workshop, bringing together academics, students and industry researchers from South Africa and the United Kingdom. They will discuss research and advances in CCS techniques and technologies - and how they can be used to combat climate change.

As the Carbon Capture & Storage Association explains, there are three aspects to CCS: capturing the carbon dioxide (before, after or even while burning them by using capture technologies that allow the separation of carbon dioxide from gases produced in electricity generation and industrial processes); transporting the carbon dioxide (by road tankers, ships and pipelines); and finally, securely storing the carbon dioxide emissions (generally by pumping them underground in carefully selected geological rock formations or in deep saline aquifer formations).

All three links will be explored at the symposium, which focuses on present and future advances in CCS - highlighting the latest materials technological developments designed to capture carbon dioxide - and also explores matters such as industry requirements and carbon taxes, CO2 leakage, and the Not In My BackYard (NIMBY) phenomenon.

“Carbon dioxide emissions have become a major concern as they are one of the contributing factors in the “greenhouse” effect,” Prof Titinchi, co-organiser of the workshop explained. “The increase in anthropogenic carbon dioxide is causing dramatic climate change and will continue to cause detrimental effects to the ozone layer if nothing is done to address the problem.”

This warning echoes that of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who last year issued an IPCC Special Report warning that there was at that stage only a dozen years left for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5oC - beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of destructive storms, drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The report noted that urgent and unprecedented changes would be needed to reach the target.

“CCS is just one component of the whole range of activities we need to engage in to get CO2 emissions down to reach the UN targets - but it is a crucial one,” noted workshop attendee Prof Eric Mackay, Energy Simulation Chair in Reactive Flow Simulation at the Institute of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, and a member of the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage Project. “And it’s economically advantageous to do CCS - largely because some industries, like steelmaking, will be completely dependent on CCS to function.”

The CCS Workshop 2019 is a joint effort of UWC and UK Academia and industry under the Industry Academia Partnership Programme (IAPP) funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The intention is to transfer acknowledged competence in CCS from the UK to SA institutions - and to contribute towards capacity building in the field of carbon dioxide capture and storage, in addition to promoting the technology as one possible scenario in the government’s greenhouse gas pledge.

Presenters include :

  • Thulani Maupa, Technical Lead: Principal Carbon Storage Project at the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage (SACCCS);
  • Bagus Muljadi, GeoEnergy Research Centre, University of Nottingham, UK;
  • Dr Paul Eke, Executive Director: Perprime Limited;
  • Prof Mimoniyu Opuwari, Unique Geology Programme, University of the Western Cape and,
  • Dr Anthony Surridge, South African National Energy Development Institute.

“When something makes common sense, it always pays to pay attention. And when it comes to our fossil fuel economy, carbon storage makes a lot of sense,” says Prof Mackay. “We’re taking the hydrocarbons from the sub-surface and releasing them to the surface. So taking waste products and putting it where hydrocarbons come from is sensible.”

For more details on the 2019 Carbon Capture & Storage  Workshop, including presenter bios and abstracts, please consult the programme.


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