The FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation is consolidating its position as a center of excellence with international recognition. The activities throughout this year reflect the advances achieved in research and extension

Visits by researchers, government delegations, representatives of companies and other institutions; workshops, seminars, and the launch of a collection of books marked 2018 at the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI). Throughout the year, dozens of internal and external activities were carried, as well as an intense international travel agenda knowledge exchange and prospecting new partnerships with foreign institutions.

The RCGI’s recognition as a center of excellence can be measured by some of the visitors received in 2018. In April, the Centre’s Scientific Director, Julio Meneghini, received England’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Elizabeth Truss. In October, Shell’s Executive Vice President of Technology, Yuri Sebregts, and its Vice President of Wells, Deep Waters, and Surface Engineering Technologies, Christian George, came to see the Centre. That same month, visits were made by Alfredo Renault, Superintendent of Research and Development of the Brazilian National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP), and by José Carlos Tigre, the Agency’s R&D Technical Counsellor, as well as several executives of Shell in Brazil.

“After just three years of activities, the RCGI expanded its portfolio of projects, which now number 46, with some 320 researchers involved, and are focused on solutions that help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. They are cutting-edge studies that seek innovative processes and products, and that has been getting the attention of governments and other institutions,” states the RCGI’s Scientific Director, Professor Julio Meneghini.

He revealed that the Centre’s most recent project, which studies open numerical simulation software for solving inverse problems, involving some 60 researchers, will likely originate a new program at the RCGI, with a focus on the area of Geophysics. “The project originated from a demand by a Shell team that deals with Geophysics. It is the spontaneous expansion of the RCGI’s subjects of interest. We are entering another harvest, that is, seismic studies,” he explained.

According to him, the RCGI is also advancing in the management of its projects, in order to achieve maximum efficiency. Among other initiatives, Atena was created, which is a tool that facilitates the access of managers and sponsors of the Centre to the progress of the projects. “Furthermore, the meetings for following up the projects, which were held by the team of Dr. Rob Littel, who is responsible for Shells emissions abatement platform, brought feedback with high level critiques of the projects,” he stated.

Events and trips – For the purpose of stimulating knowledge exchange, the RCGI organized more events and trips with its members. In 2018, there were 15 internal events, the highlight being the international conference on Sustainable Gas Research and Innovation (SGRI), which grew in size and relevance in its second edition.

The conference was held in September and had presentations by seven keynote speakers by representatives of Petrobras, Shell, the Center for Energy and Environmental Resources of the University of Texas, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Brazilian Industrial Research and Innovation Company (Embrapii), and the ANP. Besides the presentation of research videos, several parallel sessions were held for oral presentations of the work that is being conducted by researchers from the RCGI and the Sustainable Gas Innovation (SGI) area of the Imperial College London – a partner of the event.

As in previous years, RCGI researchers also attended external events, such as the International Seminar on Mobility and Natural Gas, held in Rio de Janeiro; and the activities in São Paulo during the Sweden Brazil Innovation Weeks, with the participation of Professor Dominique Mouette, Coordinator of the RCGI’s Project 25.

In 2018, in search of new collaboration opportunities, 35 researchers traveled abroad. The RCGI’s Scientific Director, Julio Meneghini, visited several institutions in the United States, Holland, England, and Japan. He also took part in such international events as the International Conference on Spectral and High Order Methods (ICOSAHOM 2018), in England, and the Greenhouse Gas Technology Conference 2018, in Australia, among others, and he visited Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plants in Japan and Australia.

“In all of those places, our mission was to present the RCGI to those who did not know us, yet, and establish new partnerships, like those we are seeking with the Universities of Illinois, Michigan, Texas A & M, and Purdue,” Meneghini reported.

According to him, one of the highlights of the year was the strengthening of ties with the National Science Foundation (NSF). “We are studying Center-to-Center (C2C) a partnership, because the NSF maintains centers for engineering research with which there is great collaboration potential.”

Launches – The RCGI also has been outstanding in spreading knowledge. Seven titles of the RCGI/USP/Synergia collection were launched in 2018. The series is the fruit of the investigations conducted by RCGI scientists within the scope of different partnerships between the University of São Paulo (USP) and government, social, and business agents from the energy sector, and the books deal with a variety of aspects of the use of natural gas, such as distribution, regulation, innovative applications in industry, substituting diesel by VNG, or biomethane, and even petroleum royalties.

In July, researchers from the RCGI also launched the site, to publish news regarding the regulation of the energy sector. In October, the same group launched the biannual magazine Energy, Environment and Regulations and the monthly newsletter RCGILex News.

It is also worth pointing out the launch, in May, of a cross-disciplinary group dedicated to the subject “Public Perception of CCS. After monthly meetings and discussions on the subject, the team realigned its interests, directing them toward the topic “social operating license” of large projects in the area of petroleum and natural gas, with CCS as the highlight. In November, the group brought in the social scientist Peta Ashworth, researcher of the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland, in Australia, for the seminar “Gaining a social license for energy technology projects.