Two consortia – one led by the West Virginia University that includes as a partner Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and one led by the University of Michigan – will receive a total of $25 million during the next five years under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC).
The project will facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by the United States and China. The West Virginia University consortium that includes LLNL will develop and test new technologies for carbon capture and sequestration.
“We believe strongly that cooperation between the United States and China on clean coal and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is critical to national security and global energy and environmental interests,” said Julio Friedmann, LLNL’s director of the carbon management program and technical program manager for the partnership. “We are honored to be selected with our partners to help facilitate this important new chapter in Sino-U.S. collaboration.
“The U.S. team was built around working on applied scientific challenges in large-scale projects and deployments. We look forward to working closely with our Chinese counterparts to find opportunities to collaborate that serve the needs of both nations,” he added.
CCS is a process that separates and captures carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from industrial and power plant flue streams, then compresses the gas and stores it underground, most likely in geological formations. The process essentially captures the greenhouse gas emissions before they enter the atmosphere and stores them underground.
Livermore has a long history in CCS technology by blending computer science, geology, ecology, atmospheric science and other disciplines to find solutions to a number of challenges facing the development and safe operation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities. Areas that Livermore specializes in are: evaluating strategies for the co-production of water; predicting the consequences of releases of CO 2 ; simulating subsurface pressure build-up; modeling reactive transport of CO 2 in groundwater; monitoring CO 2 plumes in subsurface; and characterizing and assessing subsurface geology.
Just last year, Friedmann, in collaboration with the Center for American Progress, the Asia Society Center and the Monitor Group, released a report titled, “A Roadmap for U.S.-China Collaboration on Carbon Capture and Sequestration.”
The report provides a framework for long-term bilateral cooperation in the development and use CCS in three areas: cooperation on sequestration pure CO 2 streams from existing Chinese industrial plants; investment in research and development for retrofitting existing power plants; and catalyzing markets for CCS.
Other partners in the West Virginia University consortium include the University of Wyoming, University of Kentucky, Indiana University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, World Resources Institute, U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum, General Electric, Duke Energy, LP Amina, Babcock & Wilcox and American Electric Power.
“The U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center will help accelerate the development and deployment of clean vehicle and clean coal technologies here at home,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “This new partnership also will create new export opportunities for American companies, ensure the United States remains at the forefront of technology innovation, and help to reduce global carbon pollution.”
President Obama and President Hu Jintao formally announced the establishment of the CERC during the president's trip to Beijing last November. At the time, Chu joined Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang and Chinese National Energy Administrator Zhang Guobao to sign the protocol launching the center. As the world’s top energy consumers, energy producers and greenhouse gas emitters, the U.S. and China will play central roles in the world’s transition to a clean energy economy in the years ahead.
The funding will be matched by the grantees to provide at least $50 million in total U.S. funding. Chinese counterparts will contribute an additional $50 million, with combined funding from both countries totaling $100 million. The University of Michigan’s award will advance technologies for clean vehicles. The $25 million in U.S. government funding will be used to support work conducted by U.S. institutions and individuals only. Chinese partners will be announced in the coming months by the Chinese government.