UKCCSRC & CATO2 ECR Conference… erm what now?

I haven’t been blogging about my actual research in quite a while and I think it is a good idea to keep it that way! Well, it’s just I don’t have anything interesting new results for a while, but I am (very!!) confident that there will be something new soon (or I can forget about my PhD :-/). So what do scientists do if they don’t have amazing new results? They attend conferences to share their (old) research and discuss them with other scientists to see if they make sense! And that is what I did just last week.

Something else we seem to love are acronyms, so instead of calling the conference I went to something along the lines “Conference for PhD students and young post-docs that research Carbon Capture and Storage in the UK and the Netherlands” it was called “UKCCSRC & CATO2 ECR Conference”. Which must make strangers that walk past the conference venue and see signs wonder what on earth is going on there.

The conference was held in York and I was lucky enough to have 2 hours spare between my arrival to York and the start of the conference. Having never been to York I was stunned by it’s beauty (I am easily intrigued by medieval buildings, did I mention that I want to live in a Castle when I am a grown up?). Normally you don’t get to see more than the train station/airport and the conference venue of the city a conference is held in so that was already a great start for the conference!

St. Mary's Abbey ruins in the Museum Gardens, York.

St. Mary’s Abbey ruins in the Museum Gardens, York.

York Minster

York Minster as seen from the City Wall. A city wall you can walk on (getting a bit carried away here…).

The conference started with an ice breaker game before we all had dinner together. Normally icebreaker events can be kind of odd, but the conference was pretty small (30ish people) and that the game was good fun and so we (well at least I did) had a pretty good time! The game was very nerdy and tailored for people working in Carbon Capture and Storage: The game board was about 4×4 m and we were playing in groups against each other. Each group of 5 had a power station (gas or coal fired) or a steel factory and the goal was to reduce the CO2 emissions of your asset by building renewables, employing CCS or biomass or by buying CO2 certificates (pretty much how it works in the “real” world) while still making profit. The game had some loose feeling to work like Settlers of Catan if you have ever played that. Each of the six teams followed different strategies and in the end my team with our steel factory won! There were some rumours that we played unfair but hey, when has capitalism been fair to everyone ;-). I might try and see if we can get the game to Edinburgh so all the people involved in CCS research (and anyone who wants to) can give it a try!

Here you can see a snapshot of the game board and you might see that most of it is in orange which was the colour of our team. The grey lines are pipelines that transport CO2 from your source to storage sites.

Carbon Future game.

Carbon Future game.

Having been to several similar meetings it was great to mix things up a bit with people from the Dutch CCS research programme. Not only because after a while you kind of know what everyone is doing but also because there seem to be more people working on storage in the Netherlands than there are in the UK. And storage is for me more relevant than capture. I actually met a PhD student I talked to extensively during a poster session during last years EGU. We didn’t recognize each other but soon into the conversation we realized that we must have met before! The next day was the “standard” conference set up with talks. I enjoyed that there were, unlike in many CCS meetings I have been to, breakout groups for storage and capture so I could tailor my talk more towards a storage audience and we had a good discussion after my talk.

Best of all, we all got a CATO2 hat that is pretty cool (how would you dare to suggest otherwise?!). In addition I (well everyone of my team) got a cute little tin box which had some Dutch sweets in it (had…) and is now my new coffee box. Full success on all levels!

Hat and Tin Box.

Hat and Tin Box.

Next blog entry will probably be from the EGU, I will try to blog more actively this year about all the science that is going on there!

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