New Heriot-Watt labs take global approach to a global problem

Dr Robert Buchan during a tour of the new Centre

Heriot-Watt University has officially opened a new research centre that uniquely covers the entire carbon capture and storage chain, allowing researchers to study not only carbon capture but also how to transport carbon dioxide, store it securely and how to develop it for further use.

The Centre for Innovation in Carbon Capture and Storage

The Centre for Innovation in Carbon Capture and Storage (CICCS) has been set up under the leadership of Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, who holds the Robert M Buchan Chair in Sustainable Energy Engineering at the University. She heads a team drawn from across the globe, spanning disciplines from chemistry and environmental science to chemical engineering and petroleum engineering.

The formal opening of the centre means the CICCS team has now state of the art facilities to accommodate a team of 15 researchers.

Dr Robert Buchan, Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer and the Principal of Heriot-Watt University, Professor Steve Chapman

Research projects

Research projects under way include looking at ways to make carbon capture cost efficient for the largest producers of carbon dioxide, in particular power plants and heavy industry and, at the other end of the cycle, understanding the fate of the long-term storage of carbon dioxide in geological formations under the seabed.

Helping to reduce CO2 levels

Carbon capture and storage is considered essential to reducing carbon dioxide levels, a key contributor to global warming. The UK Committee on Climate Change has emphasised the importance of decarbonising the energy generation sector by 2030 to ensure that the UK and Scottish Government's target of an 80% reduction in CO2 from 1990 levels by 2050 is not jeopardised.

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer said, "Our new facilities have been made possible through the generous donation of our Chancellor, Dr Robert Buchan. These laboratories will be key to delivering our existing research programmes worth £3million. We also look forward to the opportunities that these new facilities will undoubtedly bring to further strengthen the leading position for Heriot-Watt in energy research."

International potential

Results from the Heriot-Watt CICCS centre have great international potential, particularly from rising economic powers such as China, India and Brazil. Prof Maroto-Valer said there were already plans to begin research exchanges with China.

Poster competition

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer (left) and Dr Buchan (right) with the winners of the poster competition: amanda Hughes, Theodoros Chronopoulos and Hsu Min-Hung  

To mark the opening of the Centre, doctorate students at Heriot-Watt were invited to present posters about particular aspects of their research relating to the work of the laboratories.

Winner of the Best Poster as voted by academic staff:

Name: Hsu Min-Hung
Poster Title: Charge the device by low level light - the application of dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) - from lab to application

Winner of the Best Poster as voted by Research Fellows/Associates and PhD students:

Theodoros Chronopoulos
Poster Title: Process Intensification of CO2 Capture towards a more Sustainable CCS Technology

Winner of the Poster with the most Academic Impact:

Amanda Hughes
Poster Title: A membrane distillation unit for integration with concentrated photovoltaic/thermal energy