Sunday, April 27, 2008

Carbon Research

I had the opportunity to attend a field trip to the Pickle Research Center last Friday. I was able to observe the distillation columns, pumps, and exchangers at the CRT laboratory. I learned the university is currently conducting research on carbon sequestration and how to use solvent that feeds into the distillation column and capture carbon dioxide releases from the overhead column. I also learned the University of Texas is the only institution doing research on that topic.

Dr. Eldridge stated while we were in the control room looking at the carbon sequestration computer system, if Obama gets elected, there will be policy on carbon very soon. However, if McCain is elected, we will not know how long it will take to have a policy on carbon. As an engineering student, this is critical for us. Therefore, I am glad I had the opportunity to be in Dr. Webber’s class and learn about energy technology and policy. It broadened my scope of work and I was able to understand the current event of what is happening.


Nilou said...

I was very surprise when Professor Eldridge mentioned the implication of political showdown on what we are doing over here in UT. I want to mention that not only we are the one of the only ones in US but also in the world doing this type of research. Reviewing papers on this topic from around the world it was surprising to notice not many research efforts in the US. It was specially very surprising to me since coal is one of the most abundant fuels in the US and this technologies can possibly work very well in the US.

Stephanie Freeman said...


I'm glad you had the opportunity go to the PRC and see the research going on there. I agree that there is a lot of interesting research going on at UT in the area of carbon capture and sequestration, primarily in the groups of Dr. Rochelle and Dr. Eldridge.

I am a student of Dr. Rochelle's that is investigating carbon dioxide capture for my PhD thesis. I have also noticed that very few researchers in the US have such a well established CO2 capture program as Dr. Rochelle. Our group interacts with most of the researchers in this area around the world because there fewer than you would think.

There is a group at the University of Kentucky that is working with an industrial partner (E.on UK maybe?) to set up some pilot plant work. Our main collaborators are a group at the Norwegian Technical University in Trondheim (NTNU) and the University of Regina in Canada.

I think that there has not been very much focus on this area because there are no regulations on CO2 emissions. The consensus is just now finally coming around to the idea that global warming is anthropogenic and CO2 is the main cause. I think that once legislation is enacted, or even talked about seriously, people will begin to see the financial benefits of efficiency and process improvements and more research will be conducted.

Nilou said...

I also have noticed some work going on by Dr. Herzoy in MIT which appears very interesting to me and will be the subject of my further curiosity in the next month.