Invited Speakers

In order of appearance on the International Carbon Conference 2018

Halldór Thorgeirsson

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Halldór retired from the UN Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn in July of 2018 after fourteen years in strategic positions. He managed the support to international negotiations that transformed the global climate regime culminating in the Paris Agreement in 2015 and was in the lead on the interface with the IPCC. Before joining the secretariat, Halldór served as the Chair of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) for a two-year term. His prior research activities include studies of nitrogen cycling, the impact of elevated carbon dioxide on the carbon balance of trees in situ and measurements of fluxes of carbon dioxide and water over crops and forest canopies and of methane from Arctic wetlands.

The pathway towards a global balance between emissions and removals in the context of the paradigm of the Paris Agreement.

Through its long-term objective, the Paris Agreement sets a limit on the remaining budget for global carbon emissions this century. The goal of reaching a balance (i.e. net-zero state) between emissions and removals no later than by mid-century flows directly from this limit. The paradigm of the Agreement is based on iterative five-year cycles of nationally determined contributions to the objective coupled with a global stocktake of progress along the global emissions pathway. This science-based approach puts renewed focus on how the rate of global removals can be ramped up at the same time as global emissions peak and start declining and calls for a more holistic view of anthropogenic influences on the global carbon balance.

Philip Ringrose

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Philip Ringrose is a specialist in CO2 storage and reservoir geoscience at the Equinor Research Centre, Trondheim, Norway. He is also Adjunct Professor in CO2 Storage at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). After graduating in Geology (BSc. Hons, University of Edinburgh) followed by a PhD in Applied Geology (University of Strathclyde), he followed an international career in applied geoscience, both in industry and academia. He was elected as 2014-2015 President of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE). He has published widely on many aspects of low-carbon energy, reservoir geoscience and fluid flow in rock media, and has recently published a textbook on Reservoir Model Design. He is Editor in Chief for the journal Petroleum Geoscience.

The CCS hub in Norway: some insights from 22 years of saline aquifer storage

In this talk Phil Ringrose summarizes the development of industrial-scale CCS in Norway, starting with the Sleipner project in 1996.  With 22 Million tonnes of CO2 stored in saline aquifers offshore Norway, these projects bring important insights into how CO2 storage actually works. For example, the Sleipner project can be used to assess the actual storage efficiency (5%) and compare this with theoretical estimates based on fluid dynamics (in the range of 1-6%). This experience will be vital as we attempt to achieve global scale-up of CCS technology.

Peter Kelemen

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Peter Kelemen is Arthur D. Storke Professor in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences (DEES) at Columbia University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, recipient of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Bowen Award, and Fellow of the AGU, Mineralogical Society of America, and Geochemical Society. He studies chemical and physical processes of fluid-rock reaction. A current focus is on geologic capture and storage of CO2 (CCS), and reaction-driven cracking in natural and engineered settings, with application to CCS, geothermal power, hydrocarbon extraction, and in situ mining. Kelemen was founding partner of Dihedral Exploration (1980-92), mapping mineral deposits in steep terrain. He received an AB from Dartmouth College in 1980, and a PhD from University of Washington in 1987. He spent 16 years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and moved to Columbia in 2004. He was Associate Chair and Chair of DEES from 2012 to 2018.

Carbon in the crust

In this invited review, we summarize the main results of ongoing research on “in situ” carbon mineralization in ultramafic rocks, including outcrop studies in Oman,  investigation of carbon mass transfer in subduction zones from the Oman Drilling Project, laboratory investigations and numerical modeling of the pressure of crystallization and reaction-driven cracking, and assessment of the rate, cost and capacity of various proposed methods for engineered carbon mineralization.

Edda Sif P. Aradóttir

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Dr. Edda Sif Pind Aradóttir is the Head of Innovation and Strategic Planning at Department of R&D at Reykjavík Energy. She is furthermore the Project Manager of the international CarbFix research project that has developed innovative and environmentally benign methods for capturing and permanently turning CO2 to rock within the subsurface. Edda has over 15 years’ experience in management and research related to CCS, renewable energy and reservoir engineering. Dr. Aradóttir received a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Iceland in 2004, a M.Sc. in Theoretical Chemistry in 2006 from the University of Iceland and a Ph.D. in Reservoir Engineering in 2011 from the University of Iceland in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Permanent and efficient carbon capture and mineral storage in basalts – the CarbFix story

Global emissions must be put on a permanent downward trend by 2020 if severe consequences of global warming are to be prevented. Results can only be achieved through widespread application of the various technical solutions already available in reducing emissions and lowering CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

CarbFix involves capturing otherwise emitted CO2, dissolving it in water and injecting it into basaltic geological formations. There, the CO2 is turned into rock in less than two years and is thereby permanently removed from the atmosphere. The CarbFix team has developed the method from scratch over the past twelve years; moving from laboratory-scale and numerical simulations, through pilot-scale field injections, to stage-wise build-up of industrial-scale capture and injection. Innovative equipment and methods for capturing, injecting, and monitoring have been designed and built. The annual CO2 emissions of Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, the home of CarbFix, were reduced by 34% since industrial scale CCS operations began in 2014 until 2017.

The CarbFix method provides a safe and efficient alternative to conventional CCS-methods in which CO2 is stored in less reactive rock formations as a supercritical phase. It only takes two years to petrify the injected CO2 in CarbFix, whereas mineralization happens on the scale of hundreds to thousands of years in conventional CCS. Risks of leaks are also eradicated in CarbFix as the injected phase is denser than the surrounding groundwater and therefore sinks as opposed to rising to the surface through buoyancy forces.

Demonstrating cost-effective solutions to limiting emissions and lowering atmospheric CO2 levels is essential in building a carbon neutral economy. Although costs of available technologies remain an obstacle in our current situation, where sticks and carrots for large scale CCS applications are sorely lacking, these costs can only be brought down through further development, up-scaling and streamlining of individual technologies and conjugated processes. This has been demonstrated by CarbFix team, which has succeeded in bringing down cost of the overall CCS chain at the Hellisheidi CarbFix injection site to less than $25/ton.

Jan Wurzbacher

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Dr. Jan Wurzbacher, Founder & Co-CEO, Climeworks AG, Switzerland. Jan was born in Hamburg, Germany and received his MSc (2009) and PhD (2015), both in mechanical engineering from ETH Zurich. In 2009 he founded Climeworks as a spin-off of ETH Zurich together with Christoph Gebald. Both have built up Climeworks to more than 60 employees and are jointly managing the company.

Current developments of CO2 capture from the air

Direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 deals with the extraction of concentrated CO2 from atmospheric air. Potential applications include future emission mitigation strategies, in particular negative emission technologies (NETs) and storage and transportation of renewable energies in the form of synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.

DAC has some intriguing characteristics: It can address present and past emissions from distributed sources such as those derived from the transportation sector and can be logistically decoupled from the existing energy infrastructure, i.e., DAC systems need not be located at the source of emissions. Most importantly, DAC combined with the conversion of CO2 to liquid hydrocarbons using renewable energy offers a closed-material cycle for the production of sustainable transportation fuels.

Climeworks captures CO2 from ambient air with the world’s first commercial carbon dioxide removal technology. Our DAC plants capture CO2 with a patented filter, using mainly low-grade heat as an energy source. Plants are modular, scalable and can be massproduced, enabling deployment on a large scale.

Bernard Marty

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Bernard Marty is a Professor of geochemistry at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie, Université de Lorraine, and researcher at the Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, Nancy, France. Bernard has a Master in Physics from the University of Toulouse, and a Doctor degree in geochemistry from the Université Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris. He is Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the European Association of Geochemistry, the Geochemical Society, and the Meteoritical Society. He has been awarded the Grand Prix Dolomieu of the French Academy of Sciences, and the Bowen Award and Lecture of the American Geophysical Union. Bernard's interests include processes of planet formation, the origin of terrestrial water, and the evolution of the atmosphere from the Earth's formation to Present. Bernard has been/is involved in several space missions such as Stardust, Genesis, Rosetta (in situ analysis of cometary volatiles), Hayabusa II (return of samples from a carbonaceous asteroid), and Osiris Rex (id.).

Origin and distribution of carbon on Earth

The Earth formed from the accretion of small bodies originating from the inner solar system called planetesimals, which present-day remnants are asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are the sources of meteorites falling on Earth, which give insight into the nature and composition of primitive material that formed 4.56 billion years ago. Meteorites contain carbon, mostly on the form of organic matter, which might have seeded terrestrial C in our planet. Other potential sources of terrestrial carbon include the protosolar nebula, the cloud of gas and dust from which the Sun and solids formed, which was rich in the so-called volatile elements such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and noble gases. Small bodies originating from the outer solar system might also have been injected in the Earth forming region due to the motion of giant planets. Comets, the present-day representative of these outer solar system bodies, are even richer in volatile elements than asteroids, as they contain ice and abundant organic matter. Several dedicated space missions have documented these potential sources of terrestrial volatiles. The NASA Genesis mission sampled the particles emitted by the Sun (the "solar wind") during 27 months are returned them to Earth for analysis. Because the Sun has accumulated the largest fraction of the protosolar nebula, the analysis of solar wind permits exceptional insight into the initial composition of the solar system. The ROSINA analyser onboard of the European Space Agency Rosetta has analysed the composition of gases emitted by comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for more than two years, permitting to set stringent constrains on the contribution of comets to terrestrial volatiles. Samples from primitive carbon-rich asteroids are going to be returned to Earth by two dedicated space missions, Hayabusa II from the Japanese JAXA agency, and Osiris-Rex from NASA. The analysis of these mg-sized samples with state-of-the-art analytical facilities worldwide will provide in 2021-2023 exceptional information on carbon-rich material that potentially contributed to the atmosphere and mantle of our planet. The presence of liquid water on Earth permitted the formation of carbonates and their subsequent storage in the mantle, thus avoiding our planet to become an inferno like its sister planet Venus. Yet the abundance of carbon in the mantle and its fluxes between the depth and the surface are not well known and subject to intensive research, notably through the Deep Carbon Observatory program.

Liane G. Benning

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Liane G. Benning a PhD at ETH Zurich; postdoc at Penn State and after 17 years at University of Leeds now Prof. of Interface Geochemistry at GFZ and at the Free University of Berlin. Research we do focuses on biogeochemical element cycling in Earth surface environments with special emphasis on mineral-fluid-microbe interface reactions. We combine experimental and field observations and assess mineral formation or breakdown reactions via in situ and time resolved electron and X-ray approaches and assess the role of ‘life’ in governing global element cycles in extreme environments. Our overall goal is to understand how bonds are made or broken – one atom at a time – and use that knowledge to understand global processes.

Carbon in the Arctic an Antarctica: How small Living Things Affect Global Processes

Anthropogenically enhanced melting of snow and ice in terrestrial Polar Regions and the associated sea level rise is closely linked to changes in surface albedo, which changes due to the increased water contents and the presence of ‘light absorbing impurities’ (LAI) in the snow and ice. So far back carbon (soot) and mineral dust are the only two LAI considered in global climate models. We demonstrated the importance of other carbon species - microbes and particularly pigmented algae – and show that they also massively change albedo and are working towards an inclusion of their effects – the bio-albedo component - into global models. I will discuss what snow and ice algae ‘do’ and what their role and effect is during a melt season. I will discuss how only by quantifying each component LIA albedo individually and together can we determine what crucial role the close interaction between microbes, soot, mineral dust and snow physics plays when it comes to enhancing melting and affecting albedo. With warming climate, the biologically driven processes will increasingly contribute to the darkening of the snow and ice, and further accelerate the melting of polar ice masses.

Daniel H. Rothman

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Daniel H. Rothman is a Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT.  His work has contributed widely to the understanding of the organization of the natural environment, resulting in advances in subjects ranging from fluid flow to biogeochemistry. Rothman has held a fellowship at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and has been honoured as a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Geophysical Union.  His recent work on the carbon cycle was recognized by the 2016 Levi L. Conant Prize of the American Mathematical Society. Rothman is co-founder and co-director of MIT's Lorenz Center, a privately funded interdisciplinary research center devoted to learning how climate works.

Threshold of Catastrophe in the Earth System

Many past changes within the carbon cycle are gradual and benign, but others, especially those associated with catastrophic mass extinction, are relatively abrupt and destructive.  This talk hypothesizes that catastrophic perturbations exceed either a critical rate at long timescales or a critical size at short timescales.  Analysis of the geochemical record reveals the critical rate.  Identification of the crossover timescale separating fast from slow events then yields the critical size.  The modern critical size for the marine carbon cycle is roughly similar to the mass of carbon that human activities will likely have added to the oceans by the year 2100.  Dynamical systems theory predicts that runaway ocean acidification follows after the threshold is breached