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13 February, 2018 - 11:34 By Tony Quested

Cambridge scientists in global fight to slash CO2 emissions

A Cambridge-Singapore collaboration promises to save millions of tonnes of  CO2 through ground breaking scientific and technology advances and new business models.

While the pilot scheme will slash carbon emissions in Singapore, the initiative has the potential to be rolled out globally, according to Cambridge scientists at the heart of the project.

The Centre for Advanced Research and Education in Singapore (CARES) is in the front line of the venture. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cambridge University and one of its founding fathers was Gehan Amaratunga, Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, who has co-founded and helped commercialise several Cambridge businesses harnessing smart CleanTech.

CARES’ first research programme is the Cambridge Centre for Carbon Reduction in Chemical Technology (C4T), a partnership between Cambridge and Singapore set up in 2013 to tackle the problem of assessing and reducing the carbon footprint of the petrochemical plants and electrical network on Singapore’s Jurong Island.

Since its inception, it has brought together researchers in fields including chemical engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, biochemistry, information engineering, electrical engineering and materials science and metallurgy.

Lowering the cost of CO2 capture and developing technologies for waste heat utilisation have been among the main drivers for C4T’s research. It addresses the problem of carbon abatement in chemical technologies though interdisciplinary research programmes that combine state-of-the-art experimental analysis with advanced modelling research.

CARES director, Markus Kraft – Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology – said: “We have identified opportunities to save over eight million tonnes of co2 per year for Singapore – this is about 20 per cent of their annual emissions. 

“The idea of C4T Phase 2 is to take this forward. At the core of the proposal for C4T Phase Two is to look at ideas generated in Phase One, take them much closer to the market and let them be adopted by industry.

“One of the ideas we developed in Phase One was to blend biodiesel with diesel fuel for road transport. We’ve shown this can save about one million tonnes per year of CO2 for Singapore.

“What we’re now looking at in Phase Two is whether we can do anything similar for marine shipping traffic. This has the potential to save something like another one million tonnes of CO2 in Singapore, but it also has the potential to be adopted worldwide.

“This could have a much broader global impact, far beyond just the shipping in Singapore Strait.”

CARES C4T’s flagship project is the J-Park Simulator (JPS) – a tool for the design, analysis and operation optimisation of eco-industrial parks developed by C4T researchers. It aims to allow sector agencies, industry and infrastructure providers to model the impact of different ‘what-if’ scenarios in real time.

The simulator is able to analyse different scenarios affecting chemical processes, electricity grid and building management to provide the visual information needed to support optimisation, decision-making and scenario analysis.

Another successful initiative has been the Cambridge-CARES studentship programme, which allows Cambridge PhD students to spend two years based in Singapore with the C4T team.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: CARES director, Professor Markus Kraft

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