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CMC network researcher David Wilkinson one of first round winners

David Wilkinson, University of BC

A research team led by Dr. David Wilkinson, CMC-funded researcher and Professor with the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia, is one of 24 winners for the first round of the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation‘s (CCEMC) Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses.

The announcement that $12 million in funding was awarded to 24 organizations was made at CCEMC’s Zero 2014 conference in Edmonton on April 15.

The UBC research team led by Professor David Wilkinson with team members Dr. Arman Bonakdarpour, Dr. Alfred Lam and PhD Candidate Saad Dara in collaboration with SFU’s Professor Steven Holdcroft, received $500,000 in funding from the CCEMC to further the new technology towards commercialization. The project was one of 20 finalists chosen from over 344 international submissions. Wilkinson and colleagues are working on a project titled A coupled CO2 and wastewater treatment process to create high value gas-oil field chemicals.

Novel Technology

The researchers have developed a technology that has the potential to have a large impact on global CO2 emissions while addressing the issue of dwindling global water reserves. The novel technology uses CO2 to desalinate industrial wastewater, creating a smaller carbon footprint and an economical alternative to conventional desalination technology. The process uses these inputs to create desalinated water and high-value chemicals that are particularly useful for the oil and gas industry. In what could possibly become the standard desalination and wastewater treatment, UBC’s technology could have a significant impact on carbon dioxide removal. 

The technology combines salts present in industrial wastewater with carbon dioxide in an electrochemical cell to mineralize the carbon dioxide in the form of high-value oil-field chemicals such as acids and carbonate salts. This coupled process simultaneously removes CO2 and desalinates the wastewater or brine. The amount of CO2 that can be mineralized is dependent on the salt content of the wastewater. Designed as a process operated from a modular facility, the technology can be easily scaled based on wastewater volume treatment requirements. The modular design also means the technology will be easy to transport and simple to operate on site.

Wilkinson is a Lead Investigator on CMC Project B222: Development of novel nanostructured photocatalysts for highly efficient solar photocatalytic reduction of CO2 to fuels.

Competition goal to reduce GHG emissions

The CCEMC launched the multi-year competition last year, with a goal to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by fostering the development of technologies that create new carbon-based, value-added products and markets.
“While efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions around the world are making progress, we still need to pursue other strategies that can reduce emissions as global demand for fossil fuels grows,” said CCEMC Chair Eric Newell. “We applaud the leaders behind these projects who are taking action through developing new carbon utilization technologies.”