CCS Technology Revolutionised Thanks to AI

The time required to design carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems is now just 24 hours, down from 100 days, thanks to a significant breakthrough

Technology stands out as a key enabler in the decarbonisation process, but one technology in particular stands out: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

This groundbreaking innovation promises to revolutionise industries like power generation, oil and gas, steel, chemicals and cement by significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

But there’s a new twist — AI is now slashing the time and cost of modelling carbon CCS methods thanks to bright minds at Heriot-Watt University’s global research institute for net zero.

What is CCS?

A technology designed to capture CO₂ emissions produced from burning fossil fuels in power generation and industrial processes, CCS prevents said emissions from entering the atmosphere, where they contribute to global warming and climate change.

CCS is a crucial technology for mitigating climate change because it allows industries to continue using fossil fuels while reducing their carbon footprint. As well as this, it has the potential to play a significant role in achieving global climate targets by helping to limit the concentration of CO₂ in the atmosphere and reduce the impacts of climate change.

How Heriot-Watt University has revolutionised CCS with AI

Traditionally, the process of simulating the feasibility and effectiveness of CCS in a specific location has been a laborious task, often requiring up to three months of research and analysis. 

But now, thanks to this team of visionary researchers — chemical engineers, physicists, geologists, mathematicians, computer scientists and economists known together as iNetZ+ — that paradigm is set to shift dramatically.

Professor Ahmed H. Elsheikh, Leader of the data and artificial intelligence research theme at iNetZ+, explained how the team’s research is primarily focused on refining algorithms that can be applied to CCS in typically hard-to-decarbonise industries.

Professor Ahmed H. Elsheikh, Leader of the data and artificial intelligence research theme at iNetZ+

“Our research has the ability to really advance existing scientific research streams to source suitable options for safe storage of CO₂ without consuming too much energy and without the need to deploy expensive and often time-consuming exploratory investigations,” he said. 

“We’re confident that through our applied research and with more collaboration with business and industry, we can collectively make a profound impact on the global shift towards a carbon-neutral future.” 

What is the outcome of the CCS AI research?

The teams at Heriot-Watt hope their hard work will set an example as to how bespoke technologies can enable CCS to be a viable economic option for traditional industries — like steel, cement and chemicals — wanting to decarbonise. This also aligns with UK government goals to reach net zero by 2050.

Thanks to £2.5 million (US$3.7m ) of funding, energy-efficient solvents for CO₂ capture have been developed, followed by permanent storage of captured CO₂ into geological storage sites. This is all down to a variety of techniques leveraging AI.

Thanks to implementing this technology, standard CCS techniques can be replaced for modelling flow migrations, speeding up processes that previously took 100 days to a mere 24 hours.

Gill Murray, Deputy Principal for Enterprise and Business at Heriot-Watt University

“Using our new global research institute as a vehicle to impact global solutions towards decarbonisation, we’re pioneering ground-breaking methods in all major sectors that can propel us toward a net-zero future,” Gill Murray, Deputy Principal for Enterprise and Business at Heriot-Watt University added.

“We are intent on innovating for the future and beyond.”


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