Congratulations to our Phebe Linette Bonilla Prado! She has a new paper out about carbon capture. Specifically, how molecular simulations can provide information about hydrotalcites and their interaction with CO2.
This paper came about from her attendance at the GHGT-15 conference. We spoke to Phebe about her paper and the GHGT conference.
The 15th Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT-15) conference is part of a series of conferences started in 1997 organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme (IEAGHG). GHGT conferences are held every two years in IEAGHG’s member countries based on North America, Europe and Asia.
The GHGT conference is the main international conference on greenhouse gas mitigation technologies, especially on CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technologies which have a crucial role in achieving net-zero emissions and mitigating climate change.
If you want to find out more about CCS then read this interview with Gloria Mensah.
My supervisor told me about the conference at the start of my PhD. However, I was not able to go to the 14th edition in Australia as I had only just started. I was preparing to go to the conference in the United Arab Emirates in October 2020. However, due to the pandemic, it was delayed until March 2021 and was held virtually.
In the end, I think it was a good change since I did not have to pay for such a long trip, although I would have loved to travel there.
CCS technologies will be paramount to reduce our carbon emissions in the near future. Power generation is decarbonising by using renewable energy sources, however, using renewables is not always possible. Moreover, there are other sectors that cannot make this switch so easily due to the nature of their processes, for example, steel and cement manufacturing.
CCS technologies can be used to reduce emissions while enabling economic development. The main challenge CCS technologies face is the cost of large scale implementation due to the energy requirement and corrosion problems derived from the nature of the solvents that are commonly used in commercial CCS units.
I am working on molecular simulations of CO2 capture using hydrotalcites, a type of clay. It has shown promising results for carbon capture at laboratory scale and we want to know if it can be used instead of the commercially employed solvents.
At this conference, researchers and institutions worldwide working on CCS technologies share their work and discoveries. I felt honoured to give an oral presentation among the many participants (over 900!) and it was an amazing experience to learn from other people in charge of large research groups. It makes me hopeful that many of us are working towards a more sustainable future.
Simulations, at molecular or process scale, enable researchers to explore different conditions and materials with fewer resources. In my paper, I discussed how molecular simulations can provide more information about hydrotalcites and their interaction with CO2.
My results are still preliminary since there are no other hydrotalcites studies using the same molecular simulation tool. Since I developed the parameters required to run the simulations from a very small training set it requires a lot of refinement. The paper aims to open a new area of possibilities for people working with hydrotalcites and how these materials can be evaluated for CO2 capture.
If you want to read the full paper, then follow the link. Read: Molecular Simulation of Post-combustion Carbon Capture using Hydrotalcites