By Indira Mann, Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage
The technical challenge of storing carbon dioxide deep below ground is nothing compared to trying to describe the process to the uninitiated.
So, when we took the ALIGN-CCUS project to UnEarthed, a public engagement event centred around the earth sciences, in late 2017, we were fortunate to have a virtual reality carbon capture and storage (CCS) experience – courtesy of Shell – to help us out.
Every year, the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) showcases science to a hugely receptive public at different venues around the British Isles. This time it was the turn of Edinburgh’s Our Dynamic Earth and the queue of visitors snaked into the distance more than an hour before the doors opened, such is public interest in our planet.
Virtual reality exerted a similar effect, and the Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) team were kept busy with the VR goggles as amateur scientists of all ages waited patiently for their turn. This gave us an excellent opportunity to explain more about carbon capture, storage and utilisation in general, why it is a crucial part of climate action and what the ALIGN-CCUS project hopes to achieve.
Being SCCS, we also described the range of scientific and technological research and innovation taking place in our partner institutes, three of which are partners on ALIGN-CCUS – namely, the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University and the British Geological Survey, who enabled our participation in this event.
Same time next year? It’s a virtual certainty.
(Photo caption: (from left) Richard Stevenson and Vanessa Mather get ready for the crowds; Vanessa sends one young scientist on his journey below ground; Rebecca Bell prepares the next traveller for the CCS experience)