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  • [ November 26, 2009]

    PKU and UC Berkeley Lab Forge Ties for Carbon Capture and Storage Research

  • Peking University and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory agreed on November 12 to jointly pursue the development of safe and effective carbon capture and storage techniques.

    A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was entered between the University of California, which manages the Berkeley Lab, and Peking University. It was signed by Don DePaolo, director of Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and professor of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, and Shiyi Chen, dean of PKU’s College of Engineering.

    CCS holds strong promise for mitigating climate change by capturing carbon dioxide from major sources, such as coal-burning power plants, and injecting it deep underground for permanent storage.

    Chen said that effective measures must be taken to deal with green house effects. The technology of CCS, though not yet widely applied in a large scale around the world, is significant for meeting the challenges of climate change, especially for China, a major coal producer and energy consumer.

    The collaboration was cemented at the “China-U.S. Workshop on Carbon Capture & Storage,” a two-day event sponsored by the Philomathia Foundation through a grant to UC Berkeley. The workshop, held at PKU, brought together scientists from the Berkeley Lab, Stanford University, and several Chinese research institutions.

    "The MOU is a formalization of our intent to jointly use our resources and share information so that we can pursue research that will help accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and storage in both countries over the next 10 to 20 years," said DePaolo.

    The importance of the memorandum is underscored by the fact that China and the U.S. together are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. Compounding the problem, fossil fuels such as coal are likely to remain cheap and plentiful sources of energy for decades to come - thus continuing their potential contributions to climate change.

    "Carbon capture and storage may be a very effective technology, especially over the next 100 years, in reducing the amount of carbon that is introduced into the atmosphere as a result of energy production," DePaolo added.

    In order for carbon capture and storage to have a significant impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, advances are needed in both the capture technology and the understanding of subsurface processes related to carbon dioxide injection, trapping, and monitoring.

    Future projects facilitated by the MOU could include joint carbon capture and storage tests, research on identifying the best storage sites, and the development of computer models of storage site performance.

    The COE-Berkeley Lab collaboration is the latest milestone in PKU’s role as one of the first institutions in this research field. In September 2009, Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project initiated an international collaboration with PKU, University of Southern California, and China University of Geosciences at Wuhan, to address fundamental issues associated with large-scale sequestration of carbon dioxide in saline aquifers in China.

    COE Vice Dean Dongxiao Zhang is in charge of the project, which has received close to a million USD for research.