In its fourth internal workshop, the research center headquartered in Poli-USP shows its calling for studying the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be the main focus of the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) going forward. The change in direction was announced by the Centre’s Scientific Director, Júlio Meneghini, during the IV Internal Workshop of the RCGI, which took place March 9 and 10. “We made a series of visits to the best universities abroad, in the area of the abatement and reduction of GHG emissions and found that we have much to contribute to this subject,” Meneghini reported.
The RCGI has 45 research projects, divided into four programs: Engineering; Physicochemical; Energy and Economic Policies; and CO2 Abatement – this last program was launched in the second half of 2017. The new research focus will demand more joint efforts for strategic planning on the part of the Directors of the other three programs. But, according to Meneghini, the RCGI is prepared to take on this challenge.
“One of the advantages of the Centre, from its inception, was the adoption of a blended structure of involvement and management, which is not as rigid as that of corporations, neither as complex as in academic circles. In a structure like ours, information flows more easily, and is not held back. Therefore, we are able to maximize the exchange of information among researchers,” he states.
According to Alexandre Breda, Technical-Scientific Coordinator of Shell at the RCGI, the world currently emits 35 Gtons per year of CO2. “In order to fulfill the commitments stipulated at COP 21, in Paris, in 2015, it is estimated that our maximum worldwide emissions budget is 1 trillion tons CO2. But we have already emitted, up to today, 620 billion tons. There are calculations showing that in 2036 we will achieve our budget”, says Breda, mentioning numbers from a website named http://trillionthtonne.org/, that accounts the world emissions in real time.
Breda revealed that Shell as make a commitment to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2050.
“Today, Shell’s energy intensity is 84g of CO2 per megajoule, while the worldwide average is 70g of CO2 per megajoule. We want to be closer to the world average, so we stipulated this ambitious goal be reached by 2050. It was well received by society, in general, but it brings immense pressure to bear on our operations.”
The Director of the CO2 Abatement Programme, Kazuo Nishimoto, remembered that, despite being heavily called out by society, in general, the oil companies are directly responsible for only 6% of the global emissions of CO2. “The debate regarding how to reduce GHG emissions associated with climate change, focus primarily on oil and gas companies. The companies are under constant pressure from regulations and for their reputation to reduce CO2 emissions both upstream and downstream, and will be increasingly more challenged, in the coming years, to provide solutions and to make investments.”
Nishimoto feels that the emphasis on oil companies because, when they are added to these 6% CO2 emissions of the end users of the products they sell (transportation, heating, and power generation, for example), the petroleum and gas sector is responsible for nearly half of global emissions.
In his opinion, the investment in reducing emissions should be seen as an opportunity.
“There are R&D investments from the petroleum and gas produced in Brazil, and there is a high level of greenhouse gases in all of the pre-salt reservoirs. Furthermore, the knowledge and the technologies generated from natural gas production systems can be used in technologies for reducing CO2 emissions.”
The RCGI, which is headquartered in the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (Poli-USP), now has more than 200 researchers working together to resolve technological and public policy problems of the petroleum and natural gas sector. It has its own headquarters, a lean administrative structure, and it deals with real problems, brought to it by Shell and by collaborators who are dedicated to the subject. “For all these reasons, the RCGI was mentioned in the platform of the new, recently elected Poli-USP board as an example to be followed by other departments of the Polytechnic School and even by other USP units,” Julio Meneghini stated.