Heriot-Watt researcher collects award for work on fighting climate change

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At the Spanish Embassy in London, Prof. Susana García López (third from left) receives her 2020 Emerging Talent Award from The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom.

A Spanish chemical engineer at Heriot-Watt University working in the area of carbon capture and storage has collected an award for her outstanding contributions to research.

Professor Susana García López was awarded the fifth edition Emerging Talent Award by The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) and Banco Santander Foundation for her innovative research on mechanisms to capture carbon dioxide to fight climate change.

Prof. García López, a professor in Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, originally won the award in 2020, but was unable to collect it when that year’s awards ceremony was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere is the greatest challenge our generation faces.

Professor Susana García López

The award ceremony took place at the Spanish Embassy in London, in the presence of His Excellency Mr José Pascual Marco Martínez, Spanish ambassador in the UK; Mr Rodrigo Echenique Gordillo, president of the Banco Santander Foundation; and Dr Claudia Román Montañana, president of SRUK/CERU.

The SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award aims to support young Spanish researchers with an outstanding scientific career in the UK, which in turn promotes new collaborations between academic institutions and enterprises both from Spain and the UK.

The awards committee said Prof. García López was awarded for her excellent research career in the field of chemical engineering and climate change, with which she aims to solve one of the main global issues: the continuous release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

Her research focuses on advancing materials and separation processes for energy, industrial, and environmental applications through the integration of process engineering and basic science. One of her most recent contributions has been the design of new materials capable of capturing carbon dioxide more efficiently than those currently available.

Prof. García López said she was delighted to have collected in person the 2020 SRUK/CERU Emerging Talent award, and added: “Reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere is the greatest challenge our generation faces, and pushing forward the required transition to clean and sustainable energy is the goal of my research.”

Prof. García López said growing up in northern Spain’s Asturian mining coal basin – a major coal-producing area since the 18th century – had shown how society and economies were reliant on coal. But this was now changing with the move away from fossil fuels, towards clean and sustainable energy sources.

"Over time, all those activities stopped, as we need to transition to new, clean energy systems," she said.

A total of 24 nominations competed for the 2020 award, with applications reviewed by a committee of internationally renowned researchers.

Dr Claudia Román Montañana, president of SRUK/CERU, said: “This award showcases the huge contribution that Spanish scientists and researchers bring to the UK, and will help both awardees to develop their portfolio whilst improving the visibility and dissemination of their research to both Spanish and British societies.”

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Victoria Masterson