Ruddington Scientist Awarded an MBE

A climate change expert from Ruddington says he’s “unexpectedly chuffed” to be included on this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List – which recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.

Professor Andy Chadwick – who’s an individual Merit Research Scientist at the British Geological Survey (BGS) – has received his MBE for services to the Science of Carbon Capture and Sequestration. “I’d never paid much attention to the Honours process – other than to grumble occasionally when I thought some undeserving politician was getting a gong” admits Andy. Then, out of the blue, a few weeks’ ago he received an official-looking letter containing his own good news – which he had to keep secret for a while. “I did mention it to the family, though!” He’s been told he’ll be invited to a special ceremony to receive his MBE but doesn’t know the details yet.

Andy studied Geology and Geophysics at the Universities of Oxford and Durham before securing a job at BGS in Keyworth – prompting his move to Ruddington some 40 years’ ago.

What exactly IS carbon capture and sequestration?

“It’s the technique of separating carbon dioxide from the flue gases (the stuff that comes out of the chimneys) of power stations and factories, compressing it and injecting it via a deep borehole into underground rock formations, typically a mile or so beneath the surface” explains Andy. “So we are essentially just returning the fossil carbon from coal, oil and natural gas back to where it started out, rather than emitting it to the atmosphere where it is driving global warming.”

BGS has produced the helpful video below to illustrate this:-

Andy has travelled far and wide to carry out his work: “I’ve been to pretty much all the places where CCS is being researched or carried out: Obvious places such as all over Europe, the US, Australia, Japan – but also Spitzbergen where they were eager to reduce emissions from their tiny coal-fired power-station.” He’s also published more than 150 peer reviewed papers, books, book chapters, general articles and reports: “The papers I’ve written on the carbon-dioxide storage project at the Sleipner gas field in the Norwegian North Sea are the ones I’m perhaps most pleased with.”

His proudest achievement?

“To show that we can inject millions of tonnes of carbon-dioxide into an underground rock reservoir and then, using geophysical survey techniques, we can see where the CO2 is moving in the storage resevoir, show that none is leaking out towards the surface and predict where it’s going to move to hundreds or even thousands of years into the future. My most surprising discovery was that time-lapse seismic surveying (a sophisticated deep echosounding technique) can detect layers of CO2 as small as about a metre thick in a deep underground rock reservoir, and track its movement through time!”

With the widespread worries about global warming and climate change, can carbon capture technologies really make a difference?

“The Paris Climate conference of 2016 really threw into focus just how quickly we need to reduce global emission of carbon dioxide in order to avoid dangerous temperature rise. But many countries are still building new fossil fuel power stations, and we all need heat and manufactured goods to survive. Economic and technical studies indicate that CCS is the cheapest and most viable technique for reducing emissions at the required rate.”

However, now that their two children have grown up, the proud Lancastrian has decided to take early retirement from BGS so that he and his wife Maria can move up to the Lake District “…to go walking and take photographs!”

One of Andy’s stunning Lake District photographs

Reassuringly Andy believes it’s NOT too late to save the Earth: “The planet will still be around long after we’re gone!”

{Top photo of Dr Chadwick courtesy of the UK CCS Research Centre}

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