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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

Carbon Capture and Storage Faraday Discussion

 The Faraday Discussion on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) took place 18-20th July in Sheffield, UK. This unique meeting format (more on this in a moment) was organised by the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and supported by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). The scientific committee consisted of Paul Fennell, Amparo Galindo, Camille Petit (all Imperial College London), Mercedes Maroto-Valer (Heriot-Watt University) and Christoph Müller (ETH Zürich), who were also chairing the different sessions. The first session reviewed the technologies likely to be deployed in the first generation of plants and included recent progress in demonstration of capture technology. The second session was about potential technologies that might be deployed in the more distant future, e.g. metal-organic frameworks, hybrid materials, ionic liquids, chemical/calcium looping and bioenergy with CCS (Bio-CCS/BECCS). The third session discussed recent advances in modelling (thermodynamic as well as economic) and how these can be used for large-scale CCS. Theme of the fourth and final session was to provide perspectives whether geological storage or utilisation would be a better means to deal with the captured CO2. As it is my main working area at the moment, I participated in the discussion of a paper on Bio-CCS/BECCS, presented by Niall Mac Dowell from Imperial College. The main concern in the subsequent discussion was whether we would have enough sustainable biomass available to roll out Bio-CCS/BECCS on a large scale. One conclusion was that it will be key to address any potential competition with food crops for land and clarify the extent of negative emissions/carbon neutrality of these systems, especially if land use change enters the game. Another important conclusion was the need to address Bio-CCS/BECCS on a whole systems level. The interactions between water, energy, agriculture and climate systems are manifold and more and more studies now investigate this nexus.

Now towards the unique format. For a Faraday Discussion, the speakers write research papers that are distributed to the participants well in advance. At the meeting, the speakers have only 5 minutes to summarise the key messages of their papers. The rest of the session is then used for discussion, and all delegates have the opportunity to ask questions, make comments, add from their own research or rebut the findings. Every remark receives a number and has to be submitted later in full via a web forum, where the speaker and other delegates can respond and where backup material can be added as well. These discussion remarks will be published alongside the papers in the Faraday Discussions journal and are fully citable. Thus, the highly interactive format requires more preparation and wrap-up as a standard conference but, in turn, it provides the opportunity to discuss research in more detail, "pressure-cook" new ideas and to learn a lot about what the current consensus in certain areas might be.
Another peculiarity is the conference dinner of a Faraday Discussion. It involves the traditional Loving Cup Ceremony, where an ancient silver cup, dating 1728, filled with wine is passed around the table to toast and commemorate G S Marlow (Secretary and Editor, 1928-1947) and Angela & Tony Fish (Angela organised the Faraday Discussions 1968-1995). The ceremony requires three persons to stand at all times and has some "rules" when to bow, towards whom to bow, when to sip from the cup and when to pass it on. The photo shows this ceremony in action during the dinner at the University of Sheffield's The Edge dining room.

Concluding, I can say that my first Faraday Discussion definitely left a very positive impression due to the fruitful scientific discussion format. So I would attend another one any time. The Discussion Volume will be published in about 6 months' time but in the meantime you can check the website to find out more about the RSC and sign up for one of the upcoming Faraday Discussions:

In the end, "in piam memoriam of G S Marlow and Angela & Tony Fish"!

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