Research team finds AI slashes carbon capture and storage design time

A multimillion-pound project is using AI to slash the time and cost involved in modelling carbon capture and storage (CCS) methods from 100 days to 24 hours.

A research team from the global research institute for net zero at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is developing specialist AI techniques for scientific computing, material discovery and financial forecasting.

The work is aimed to enable efficient CO2 capture and storage in deep geological formations whilst setting out the financial implications in deploying these techniques for businesses and policy makers.

It is hoped the project, entitled ECO-AI, will show how bespoke technologies can enable CCS to be a viable economic option for industries wanting to decarbonise, including steel, chemicals and cement.

Funded by £2.5 million from UK Research and Innovation, the ECO-AI project aims to develop energy-efficient solvents for CO2 capture followed by permanent storage of captured CO2 into geological storage sites, through various AI techniques.

The research is one of the projects being delivered by Heriot-Watt University’s global research institute which is focused on achieving net zero and beyond.

The iNetZ+ team brings together a range of scientific expertise including chemical engineering, physics, geology, mathematics, computer science and economics.

Using specialist AI simulators, standard techniques can be replaced for modelling flow migrations and simulations on a supercomputer that may have previously taken up to 100 days can now be achieved in just 24 hours.

Professor Ahmed H Elsheikh, leader of the data and artificial intelligence research theme at iNetZ+, said: “Our efforts for the ECO-AI research are primarily focused on refining algorithms that can potentially be applied to CCS in the future in typically hard to decarbonise industries.

“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.”

Gill Murray, deputy principal for enterprise and business at Heriot-Watt University, said: “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.”

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