From left, University of Texas research scientist Katherine Romanak, student Anne Streb, student Saira Waheed and Tim Dixon, general manager of the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme at the Carbon Capture and Storage Summer School being held in Regina SK..
"This is a global problem and it's going to take us all to solve it, and this is one of the main technologies that can really take a bite out of climate change."
by Lynn Giesbrect
Dozens of the world’s brightest scientific minds are gathered at the University of Regina this week for a summer school program, studying how to capture and store carbon effectively in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Forty students from 20 countries, along with 28 industry experts, are taking part in the 13th annual International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme, a not-for-profit technology collaboration program.
Anne Streb is a PhD student focusing on carbon capture methods at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. As someone who specializes in one specific area of the broad carbon capture and storage (CCS) field, she came to the program with lots of unanswered questions about other aspects of the industry.
“I know far too little about storage for example. I know far too little about regulations, about how to speak to people about it … so for me it’s really important to be here and have the opportunity to ask everybody all those questions that people always ask me,” she said.
“One of the most interesting parts about CCS and also about the major challenges is that it requires so many disciplines to work together and that’s just something that I’ve always felt like I cannot really explain CCS to anybody without understanding all the rest about it.”
Saira Waheed, a PhD student focusing on carbon storage at the University of New South Wales in Australia, also came hoping to gain a better understanding of the other pieces to the CCS puzzle.
“Storage is only one story, it’s only one side … It’s not only one discipline’s job. It’s all disciplines should be joined together,” she said. An unexpected lesson she has already learned is just how big of a problem carbon dioxide truly is.
“CO2 is really damaging our environment and if we don’t take it seriously, our future generation is going to suffer from it,” she said.
These are exactly the lessons the program’s general manager Tim Dixon wanted students to take away from the week, and noted this type of learning was the reason behind the program’s creation.
“We saw a gap and a need for some education that brought together the whole CCS chain, because it’s quite a diverse chain … geologists at one end to chemical engineers at the other and everything in between,” said Dixon.
University of Texas at Austin research scientist Katherine Romanak has been a speaker and mentor at the summer school for the past seven years. Shen described the summer school program as “one of the most impactful” programs in dealing with CCS because of its global reach.
“This is a global problem and it’s going to take us all to solve it, and this is one of the main technologies that can really take a bite out of climate change,” she said.
“I’m here not only to provide my expertise for their learning, but also to learn from them because they literally are the best and brightest young professionals in the world in CCS technology.”
Each year the week-long program is held in a different city around the world. Regina is the only repeat host, with this being its third year.
“This is the best place in the world to host a CCS summer school because Regina is a global centre of excellence and expertise in CCS, because you’ve got two significant projects here,” said Dixon, naming the Boundary Dam’s carbon capture facility and the Weyburn‐Midale CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project.
The program runs at the U of R through Saturday. On top of lectures from experts and a chance to rub shoulders with other students from around the world, participants also have the opportunity to tour Boundary Dam to see how an existing carbon capture and storage facility operates.