Carbon capture takes centre stage at Science Museum’s new exhibit

As the UK begins the second phase of reopening under the Government’s roadmap, the Science Museum opens its latest exhibition exploring technological and nature-based solutions being developed to capture carbon.

Sponsored by Shell and UKRI (UK Research and Innovation), Our Future Planet showcases technology with the potential to trap carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the air, and to prevent carbon dioxide from ever entering the atmosphere.

London Science Museum
London Science Museum

The exhibit showcases a wide range of prototypes that will capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere but, when cars add 50 billion tonnes of CO2 annually to the atmosphere, it’s clear a two-pronged approach is needed; both cutting greenhouse gases and removing carbon from the air on a large scale. Speaking in The Guardian, Professor Stuart Haszeldine, of Edinburgh University said, “Crucially we need carbon capture and carbon recapture if we are going to mitigate the worst impacts of global warming while at the same time being more efficient in our use of carbon.”

Circular carbon economy

As part of CarbonXPrize in 2018, Aberdeen University developed carbon capture technology that could be fitted to industrial flues to prevent carbon from escaping into the air. But once captured, what can be done with the carbon dioxide? Currently, carbon capture and storage offer one way forward, where carbon is stored underground as a permanent solution.

But as CarbonXPrize has demonstrated, “Our finalists represent an incredible diversity of approaches to turn waste (CO2emissions) into a wide variety of valuable products, such as enhanced concrete, liquid fuels, plastics and carbon fibre. These innovators are ushering in the circular carbon economy by turning carbon from a liability into an asset.”

And it’s this circular carbon economy that the Science Museum’s Our Future Planet will display alongside cutting-edge technologies; vodka, toothpaste, pens and yoga mats all made from captured carbon.

Low carbon industrial sector

In March, UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) awarded £171 million of funding to help move the UK towards the development of low-carbon technologies to increase the competitiveness of industry and contribute to the UK’s drive for net zero by 2050, focusing on reducing the carbon footprint of heavy and energy-intensive industries.

“Ahead of COP26, the UK is showing the world how we can cut emissions, create jobs and unleash private investment and economic growth. Today’s strategy builds on this winning formula as we transition low carbon and renewable energy sources, while supporting the competitiveness of Britain’s industrial base,” said Kwasi Kwarteng, Business and Energy Secretary.

Carbon capture credentials

Our collaboration with the University of Sheffield could pave the way to a carbon-neutral aviation industry by producing ‘green’ fuel using carbon dioxide captured from waste process streams and hydrogen produced from renewable sources.

Once complete, our innovative pilot plant at the Energy Institute at the University of Sheffield’s new Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC) national testing facility aims to find practical solutions to some of our most critical energy challenges, focusing on bioenergy, renewable energy and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies.

We have also worked with the University of Nottingham to deliver a carbon capture pilot plant to test formulations of adsorbents for CO2 capture, and with Imperial College London where our state-of-the-art carbon capture pilot plant was included in the Daily Telegraph’s Ten Groundbreaking University Research Projects, as well as being recognised in the IChemE Global Awards 2017.

“The Science Museum’s newest exhibition is an opportunity to draw attention to the challenges we face in tackling climate change and, we hope, will inspire this generation and the next to make changes to minimise or mitigate greenhouse gases, come up with their own ‘crazy ideas’ to capture or recapture CO2 and join the scientific, technology and engineering communities in developing new and innovative ways to tackle carbon reduction and climate change,” concluded Strata’s Managing Director, Dr Roger Kimber.

Our Future Planet opens on 19 May 2021 and runs until 2022. Book your free Science Museum admission tickets here.

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