Research conducted by our group falls under the theme of material changes: understanding and measuring. Our projects are focused on both qualitative and quantitative assessments of the changes that occur due to perturbations in a system. This work ranges from fundamental research understanding behaviours previously unexplored to industrially relevant problems requiring immediate attention.
Currently, we have three clearly defined areas of interest and expertise under the umbrella theme of material changes. Firstly, degradation of liquids and solids; secondly, corrosion (with collaborations in the area of crystallization); and thirdly, foam formation. In all three of these areas we are currently involved in work directly relevant to the application of carbon capture.
Post-combustion carbon capture (PCCC) remains, by far, the most mature technology for helping to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The development of PCCC is rooted in the natural gas sweetening industry, where the technology was first developed (often referred to as Amine Scrubbing). Because of the pressing need for CO2 capture, our group is focused on working towards improvement of PCCC technology to improve its financial viability. Our core research in carbon capture is focused on the degradation of aqueous amine solutions. Critically, the changes that occur during the degradation process are highly relevant to a range of additional problems including causing foaming and encouraging corrosion further.
The degradation of aqueous amine solutions is a change that occurs from exposure to impurities in the flue gas and heat in the stripper. Our work in this area focuses on the changes to solutions observed. We have custom built reactors, which are able to simulate the environment of both the absorber and stripper. This allows us to represent the changes to aqueous amine solutions in a lab environment during the capture process. We are interested in changes to the chemistry and both physical and intrinsic properties of the solution.
The problem of corrosion remains a concern across a wide range of industries, where implications can be not only serious but fatal. Our group is devoted to understanding the fundamental behaviours of corrosion, particularly by assessing the chemical material changes taking place on the metal surface and the nearby solution or gaseous phase compositions. We use traditional, electrochemical, and novel spectroscopic approaches to assess the corrosion potential, as well as the efficacy of protection methods and mechanisms. In addition to our fundamental research, we understand that our industrial partners often require more immediate information on corrosion problems, which we also seek to provide.
Foam is a significant problem in many industries where moving fluids, particularly through infrastructure like packed bed reactors, can not only reduce the efficacy of the process but also often leads to significant financial losses. Our group is focused on continuing to develop a fundamental understanding of foam formation in such systems, as well as focusing on problems associated with specific industrial processes.