Uni greenhouse gas centre to boost city jobs

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer with a water column at Heriot Watt University. Picture: TSPL
Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer with a water column at Heriot Watt University. Picture: TSPL
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THE Capital is set for hundreds of jobs and a home energy revolution after engineers opened a world-leading research centre to pioneer advances in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University said the £3 million Centre for Innovation in Carbon Capture and Storage would be the only one in the world which would look at ways of extracting, burying and re-using carbon dioxide emitted during energy production and consumption.

Carbon dioxide is regarded as the most important of the man-made greenhouse gases that are blamed for rising temperatures across the globe over recent decades.

Heriot-Watt scientists said a key element of their work would involve scaling-up existing techniques for capturing carbon dioxide to develop unique sunlight and water-powered “reactors” for use in homes.

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, who holds the university’s Robert M Buchan chair in sustainable energy engineering, said: “This would be a device that people will have and be able to use in their homes. Your home will be producing CO2 as it consumes energy, but that CO2 will be turned into natural gas by the reactor using water and sunlight – it’s revolutionary.”

CCS is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide from sources such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere.

Prof Maroto-Valer said Heriot-Watt’s research would be carried out by a core team of 15 experts brought to the Capital from across the globe.

And she predicted the centre would eventually create “hundreds” of jobs, and position Edinburgh “at the forefront” of international CCS research.

“We are probably the first centre in the world that will look at all the links in the CCS process,” she said.

“We have the most comprehensive range of reactors of any lab involved in this area of research and we are looking at which of those could be scaled up for use in homes.”

The centre’s work has already been hailed by national science chiefs.

Professor David Delpy, chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, said: “Supporting and developing leaders who can deliver answers to the world’s major engineering challenges is one of our priorities.

“The work Professor Maroto-Valer’s research team are carrying out has the potential to provide enormous worldwide benefits and opportunities.”