The development of sustainable fuels is critical to the long-term future of many hard-to-decarbonise sectors, notably the aviation, maritime and haulage industries, each a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions globally. While not a replacement for deep emissions reductions, some industries, like the steel and cement industries, will also require the use of carbon capture technologies, coupled with storage or utilisation options (CCUS), to decarbonise in line with climate targets.
Our Sustainable Fuels theme covers a wide range of work in this area from the development of biofuels and hydrogen technologies to world-leading CCUS research and education. The College is home to the largest community of CCUS researchers in the UK and its carbon capture pilot plant, stretching over four floors at the heart of the Department of Chemical Engineering, is the only facility in the world where students can learn to operate a plant built to the highest industrial standards.
Professor Anna Korre - Research Theme Lead, Sustainable Fuels
Professor Anna Korre is Co-Director of Energy Futures Lab and Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering. Her research focus is in the areas of modelling risk and uncertainty and the environmental and life cycle assessment of engineering systems. She has led and participated in numerous industry, Research Council and EU funded projects developing engineering tools to assess the impacts of the minerals and energy industries in terms of operational performance, environmental footprint and cost.
Clean Fossil and Bioenergy Group
Led by Dr Niall Mac Dowell, the Clean Fossil and Bioenergy group is a cross-departmental group with researchers from the Business School, Centre for Environmental Policy and the departments of Chemical Engineering and Earth Science and Engineering. The focus of the group is transitioning to use clean fossil and bioenergy, concentrating on three areas: electricity market modelling, above ground engineering, and below ground engineering.
Qatar Carbonate and Carbon Storage Research Centre
Led Professor Martin Blunt, the Qatar Carbonate and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC) is a cross-departmental research project with members in the departments of Chemical Engineering and Earth Science and Engineering. The team’s expertise is in a number of different areas, including geological field studies, experimental laboratory studies to validate modelling and simulations at molecular to pore to field scales. QCCSRC’s objective is to advance the understanding of carbonate reservoirs, addressing challenges that include CCS, enhanced oil recovery and producing clean fossil fuels.
Bioenergy, Land Use and Agri-Innovation Group
Led by Dr Zoe Harris, the Bioenergy, Land Use and Agri-Innovation Group are based in the Centre for Environmental Policy. Their research interests are on the impacts of land use change, bioenergy and how we can use agri-innovation to help address some of these issues. The team are currently looking at the feasibility of using vertical farming to cultivate bioenergy crops - which crops can we grow, where will these installations be located, what are the ecosystem impacts and can this technology be coupled with BECCS.
Led by Professor Geoffrey Maitland, the Imperial-Shell Digital Rocks Programme is a cross-department collaboration. It aims to revolutionise the way reservoirs are characterised and how oil and gas recovery processes are designed. This is being done using a range expertise, experience and reseach focused on rock-fluid imaging techniques linked to modelling at multiple length scales. The work is primarily funded by Shell through a five year programme.
Led by Professor Guillermo Rein, the Hazelab is based in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, studying heat transfer, combustion and fire science. Their work aims to reduce the worldwide burden of accidental fires and protect people, their property and the environment. They tackle a wide range of multidisciplinary problems using both experimental and computational methods. Their areas of expertise include forest fires, the built environment and material flammability.
Sustainable Gas Institute
Led by Dr Adam Hawkes, the Sustainable Gas Institute is a unique academic-industry partnership, and a ground-breaking collaboration between the United Kingdom and Brazil. The team provides thought leadership and drive research into the technology that could underpin a role for natural gas in the global energy landscape. The group publishes a series of White Papers to provide globally impactful policy facing analysis, bringing clarity to contentious topics in the energy sector. They are also creating the MUSE energy systems model a novel method that takes a whole systems approach to simulate energy transitions towards a low carbon world.
Resilient and Sustainable Biorenewable Systems Engineering Model
Led by Dr Miao Guo, the Resilient and Sustainable Biorenewable Systems group is based in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Their work focuses on the user-oriented problem-solving and long-term engineering solutions in the biorenewable sectors, including bioenergy, biofuel, biochemical and bioplastics. The team’s research activities cover areas such as biorenewable systems engineering model, Bioenergy value chains, resource recovery from wastewater, Sustainable and resource-efficient urban energy system and Life cycle sustainability evaluation of biorenewables processes and supply chains.