Event held in partnership with the petroleum company Repsol Sinopec Brasil unites experts around subjects related to carbon capture

In search of ideas for new research projects, in light of the challenges found in carbon capture and the transition to a cleaner energy matrix, a select group of researchers and experts met for a two-day workshop, beginning on Wednesday, February 12, at the headquarters of the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI), on the campus of the University of São Paulo (USP), in the State Capital.

The Bright Ideas for Research and Innovation workshop was held in a partnership of the RCGI with the petroleum company Repsol Sinopec Brasil, which is a joint venture between Spain’s Repsol (which controls 60% of the company) and China’s Sinopec (40%). “We hope to help Repsol become carbon neutral in its emissions by 2050,” said Professor Gustavo Assi, the RCGI’s Director for Diffusion of Knowledge, in the opening session of the event. At the end of last year, Repsol announced that it intends to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

“We believe that innovation is a key element for discovering new ways to meet these goals,” stated Támara Garcia, Manager for Research and Development of Repsol Sinopec Brasil. “We must change our mind set, in order to be able to place ourselves in this new era.”

The discussions in the workshop focused on three subject areas: digitalization and carbon capture and storage (CCS), monetization of CO2, and carbon capture and storage. “These are three highly important areas for Repsol Sinopec Brasil, highly important for us at the Centre, and also highly important, we believe, for the development of Brazil and the world during the transition of the energy matrix in the midst of climate change,” Assi stated.

He explained that the objective is to build a road map, that is, a path by which the ideas on these three fronts are shown as lines for research projects in which the petroleum company can take an interest in developing these subjects in partnership with researchers from the Centre and from other institutions.

The RCGI is a world-class center for advanced studies in the sustainable use of natural gas, biogas, hydrogen, and the management, transport and storage of CO2 emissions, and it seeks closer ties with the industry, especially with the idea of transferring the technology that is generated and communicating this knowledge to society in general. Initially funded by the Research Assistance Foundation of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP) and by the multinational British-Dutch oil and gas company, Shell, the RCGI is expanding its portfolio by attracting new partners that come to develop research projects with the Centre.

According to Gustavo Assi, natural gas, in Brazil, can contribute to the transition to a cleaner energy matrix, because it uses the same infrastructure already in existence, connects well, and interacts with the green infrastructure of the renewable matrix. “It is not possible to turn the key from one day to the next and demand that all energy sources be renewable,” he said. “What we want, among the nonrenewable sources, is to lessen the share of those that are the dirtiest and most polluting, and increase the share of the cleaner fossil fuels.”

In the opening session of the workshop, physicist Fernando Nunez Sanchez, representative in Brazil of the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), which is Spain’s innovation agency, also spoke about international technological cooperation and about the European programs for research and development: Horizon 2020 and Inno Wide.

Marcelo Andreotti, R&D Manager on Facilities, Operations and Management of Repsol Sinopec Brasil, stated that “the projects developed here will provide answers not only to the technological problems encountered in Brazil, but they will generate knowledge for Repsol’s involvement, worldwide.” This event initiates a phase in which the RCGI seeks closer ties with global companies from the energy sector.