Studying Cutting-Edge Carbon Storage Technologies

by | 7.2.2012 at 10:54am
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This past June, PhD candidates from Earth Institute’s Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy Miriam Okun and Yinghuang Ji traveled to Alabama to attend Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration (RECS), an intensive 10-day program hosted by Southern Company and sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.  The program allowed participants to study cutting-edge carbon storage technologies and strategies.  Yinghuang has written a brief summary about what she gained from the experience:

“I felt so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to participate in a world-class program like RECS.  The speakers and attendees came from backgrounds such as private industry, research laboratories, community organizations, NGOs, and government; their diversity gave me a comprehensive perspective on this technology.  The ten days seemed to go by quickly, but I especially remember Professor Klaus Lackner’s impressive closing keynote address on the importance of thinking outside the box when it comes to carbon management.

Yinghuang on a site visit in Alabama

We were able to attend great lectures from experts in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).  There were also many group exercises, site visits, and hands-on activities.  We learned how to identify and characterize storage sites and how to model the movement of fluids below the earth’s surface.  Additionally, we visited CO2 monitoring and injecting wells, learned about technology deployment strategies, and trained in public engagement and communications.  Towards the end of the program, each group of attendees was assigned a state in which to propose a new CCUS project.  My group was assigned California; we made a Public Service Announcement video to promote a plan to build a new CO2 pipeline there.

A valuable lesson I learned at RECS is the importance of having a good foundation of technical knowledge.  It was inspiring to meet so many high-level industry and government figures whose technical and scientific knowledge launched them into a wide variety of great careers and opportunities.  It was also good to see that there is so much support and funding for new and unproven ideas, which will really help move the CCUS industry forward.  I hope that someday CCUS technology can be exported to developing countries, where I believe it could do a lot of good.

Miriam, Yinghuang, and Professor Klaus Lackner at RECS Alabama

On a more personal level, some of my favorite memories from the experience are the interactions I had with my fellow attendees.  I am originally from China, but I think I might want to work in the US when I am finished at Columbia.  Talking about CCUS and just spending time with such a diverse group of people gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to make friends and succeed in a foreign country.  I am so happy that I attended RECS, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the CCUS industry!”

-Yinghuang Ji

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