Conference highlights breadth of research in CMC network writes blogger

Arizona Professor Jennifer McIntosh says there are many exciting research projects being undertaken by network investigators. She is Associate Professor in the Hydrology and Water Resources department at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She is an investigator on the Theme B project: Bioconversion of coal by enhanced engineering pathways into fuel products.

By Jennifer McIntosh, CMC Researcher

After 3 plane flights and luckily no lost luggage, my PhD student (Dan Ritter) and myself (an Associate Professor in the Hydrology and Water Resources department at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ) arrived in beautiful Ottawa (so many more trees and water bodies compared to Arizona!) last night for the 2012 Carbon Management Canada (CMC) Conference.

Coffee in hand – here are a few highlights from the first day’s sessions.

There’s no doubt that production and export of hydrocarbons is a major part of Canada’s economy; however, burning of fossil fuels for energy accounts contributes to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Rising global temperatures (from increasing CO2 levels) have me worried, especially living in southern Arizona where the climate is already hot and dry!  CMC Scientific Director Dr. Steve Larter says we need “game-changing technologies” to decarbonize the Canadian (and world) energy sector and economy, on par with development of rockets to the moon or the Manhattan Project.  We need scientists and engineers (especially young ones with “energy and spirit”) to think outside their academic ivory towers to develop new technologies that can be rapidly deployed in industry – a CMC concept called “Transfer to Practice”.  Dr. Larter challenged us to think, “can we see solutions in our research?”

CMC’s strategy to facilitate innovative research is to bring together (and fund) large, interdisciplinary teams from multi-institutions across Canada (and the US!).  Some of the most exciting team research we heard about this morning included: (1) reducing societal barriers to adopting lower carbon emitting technologies, such as geologic carbon sequestration (GCS); (2) new geophysical techniques to detect and monitor fault propagation and fluid migration (e.g. extent of CO2 plume) following GCS; (3) utilization of new compounds (e.g. gas hydrates, organic polymers, frustrated Lewis pairs) to capture and store CO2 from the atmosphere; and (4) getting microbes to convert coal and anthropogenic CO2 into other lower carbon-emitting fuel products.

Time for another cup of coffee…

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