2018 Finalist: Outstanding Achievement in Energy and Environmental Innovation sponsored by Syncrude Canada Ltd.
Carbon capture technology helping to address climate change
Dr. Nader Mahinpey holds the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Novel CO2 Capture Technologies for Oil Sands Operations. His research revolves around economically attractive reduced CO2 emissions capture for energy producers and developing novel technology to convert the carbon into useful products, thereby bridging the gap between short and long-term solutions.
What problem did you see a need to solve and how did you solve this real-world problem?
Global warming has become an undeniable reality. You can already see the effects in the environment through floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes. It is a very complicated conundrum that needs a multipronged strategy. To deal with this serious problem, we need an unwavering commitment on a global scale. We do not have a definite solution for this problem, but my group is working very hard to come up with novel technologies.
What has been the impact?
We have provided solutions with different catalysts, materials and process development for carbon capture and carbon conversion. We predict our solution will result in a 300 to 500 ton per day reduction in CO2, which is huge. We are already seeing industry is appreciating this development.
In terms of the environmental impact, the concentration of greenhouse gases has passed 400 parts per millions with both CO2 concentrations and other greenhouse gases. With the concentration drastically increasing in the atmosphere, the solution needs to be implemented very soon if we are to meet the Paris Agreement.
In terms of the socioeconomic impact, our conversion technology can produce jobs in Alberta, which will provide financial benefits.
Has being in Alberta helped you find success?
Calgary is the energy capital of Canada. We are in middle of the oil and gas industry. Therefore, you can feel the requirement and need to develop certain solutions. That has been the main drive for me, especially since I moved to Alberta 10 years ago.
At the University of Calgary, we usually conduct fundamental studies. One great thing for me and for my group is that industry is approaching us for the second phase of the work, which will involve transferring the fundamental knowledge to industry for commercialization.
Who have been your major supporters?
I was successful in establishing an industrial research chair two years ago with direct support from industry. This support came from Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Devon Canada, Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada and COSIA. Additional strong support came from government institutions such as CanmetENERGY and Alberta Innovates. We have been approached by industry and that has been a great motivation for us to continue working on these important problems.
What are the plans for the future?
One major element of our work is the opportunity to transfer our knowledge to industry. My main objective is to implement these novel technologies, not only the oil and gas industry, but in the cement industry and in power plants. We are working very hard to commercialize my capture and conversion technology for oil and gas industries around the world.
How does it feel to be an ASTech Finalist?
It is a pleasure to be recognized by ASTech simply because you can see our work has been appreciated and that gives me additional motivation to work harder on developing solutions to this important problem.