UPDATE FROM BCIA
POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH SCHOLARS
|BCIA’s program of postgraduate research scholarships is part of our commitment to strategic investment in skills development. The aim of BCIA's support is to secure the scientific, engineering and trades expertise required for the development of new low-emissions brown coal technologies.|
To date, BCIA has awarded 16 research scholarships to PhD candidates at top-ranking Australian universities.
In this edition of Perspectives we will hear from BCIA scholarship recipients, Adeel Ghayur from Federation University (below) and Manabendra Saha, from The University of Adelaide (page 5).
|Latrobe Valley Industrial Ecology for CO₂ utilisation: some preliminary reflections|
|By Adeel Ghayur, BCIA PhD Top-up Scholarship Recipient, Federation University Aust.|
|The Latrobe Valley has the potential to become Australia’s first industrial ecosystem with Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS). The Latrobe Valley is home to vast brown coal reserves, turning it into an electricity production hub. However, the current generation of inefficient brown coal power plants generate more CO₂ per watt of electricity than black coal power stations. The challenge of tackling climate change thus leaves us with two options; either to shut down the main industry in the Latrobe Valley or to make use of Post-Combustion Carbon Capture (PCC) technologies.|
|The world is on the cusp of large scale implementation of mature PCC technologies, with Australia taking a lead in the global research. The Latrobe Valley is primed for PCC plants, having a history of successful pilot projects. In a future scenario in which all the CO₂ from power stations is captured, the Latrobe Valley would be accumulating millions of tons annually. The Victorian government’s CarbonNet project has confirmed that suitable long term CO₂ storage capacity exists offshore in the Gippsland Basin, close to the Latrobe Valley. |
Storing CO₂ under the sea bed is based on the philosophy of treating CO₂ as a major waste stream. However, CO₂ can also be regarded as a resource. In other countries, recovered CO₂ is being used for enhanced oil and gas recovery. Research is being conducted into conversion of CO₂ into fuels, chemicals and plastics, production of fuels and chemicals in algal biorefineries, and applications in the cement, paper and energy industries.
At the moment there are no industrial applications which could consume the enormous quantities of CO₂ produced in the Latrobe Valley, so this is where the work lies ahead. Concerted efforts and focused dedication is needed to find commercial and industrial applications for CO₂ that could be implemented in the Latrobe Valley.
My research project at Federation University Australia, with support by BCIA, is titled “Latrobe Valley industrial ecology with CO₂ capture”. My aim is to help develop an Industrial Ecology in the Latrobe Valley, in which the impact of a PCC industry is minimal to the local community and the environment, and CO₂ is valorised. Large scale PCC would allow the coal-fired power plants to continue their operations, while CO₂ applications would help off-set PCC costs and generate local economic activities. A few options are being investigated in this regard.
It is understood that any proposed solution would need to be carefully woven into an intricate net traversing the boundaries of industry, economics, environment, society and public policies. Whichever option is selected for the Valley, the important point would be ensuring its economic feasibility and competitive product generation.
A daunting task lies ahead in the challenge of mitigating climate change and the Latrobe Valley can become a beacon of light by making its contribution towards CO₂ emission reduction. If CO₂ is converted into marketable products in the process, it would be a win-win situation for all – the local and global community.