- Separation of carbon dioxide from flue emissions using Endex principles
- Combustion of Biomass as a Global Carbon Sink
- The Charcoal Challenge. Regulation of global carbon cycles by vegetation fires
Nonlinear and complex dynamical systems, Carbon capture, Carbon sequestration, Global carbon cycles, Thermochemical instabilities, Combustion theory and modelling, Endex thermoreactive systems, Thermochemistry and thermokinetics of char formation, Quasi two-dimensional flows, Country pub lunches: http://countrypublunches.blogspot.com.
Major research projects:
2010-2014 ANU: "The charXive challenge and the clean coal quest: thermokinetic principles and methods for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide”. ARC Future Fellowship FT0991007.
2003–2008 ANU: "Studies of turbulence and coherent structures in quasi two-dimensional plasmas and ﬂuids". Fundamental investigations into two-dimensional flow physics and spontaneous emergence of structure. ARC Discovery Project DP0343765.
1999–2003 ANU: “Turbulence and anomalous transport in magnetically confined plasmas: a theoretical and computational study of transport barrier bifurcations". Fusion plasma theory and modelling, aiming to understand and control the formation and relaxation of transport barriers to improve plasma containment and bring the goal of fusion power within reach. ARC APD Fellowship project F00000150.
1998, Leeds University, UK: EPSRC funded project, with the School of Mathematics and Department of Fuel and Energy: “Detailed Thermokinetic modelling of cellulose thermal decomposition and combustion”. The application was related to the prevalent use of char enhancing treatments of celluolosic materials for flame retardation. My published results showed that charring treatments have the opposite effect – they enhance flaming combustion.
1997 Sydney University: Project in the School of Chemistry: “Molecular dynamics simulations and energy minimizations of antifreeze proteins, dynamical modelling of molecular aggregation.”
1993–1996 Macquarie University, PhD thesis: “Endothermal stabilization of chemical reactors”. Synopsis: The mathematical foundations of a new technological concept were expounded: Endex coupled chemical reactor systems. The origins and causes of thermokinetic instabilities were investigated, leading to the first satisfactory explanation of thermal runaways in large storage tanks of reactive liquids, such as the explosive hydrolysis in a tank of methyl isocyanate at the Union Carbide plant at Bhophal in 1984. Outputs were five refereed publications and two provisional patents.
1992 Macquarie University, Honours thesis: “Charge-transfer interactions of lipophilic drug molecules”. Outputs were three publications in international refereed scientific journals, two of which are still cited.
Current research projects
ARC Future Fellowship FT0991007: "The charXive challenge and the clean coal quest: thermokinetic principles and methods for capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide”.
The term charXive is pronounced pronounced ‘tcharckive’ – X is the Greek letter ‘Chi’. (In future web and print graphics the visual effect has potentially strong appeal and impact.) As a mnemonic term it is expressive of the long timescales involved: carbon is arChived, i.e., a valuable substance is safely stored for the long term.
A somewhat whimsical word-play (cha cha, jive) also suggests the importance of periodic action on shorter timescales, and in fact charXiving is a pretty lively process, as it involves the thermal relaxation oscillations of cellulose thermal decomposition. I have called this phenomenon the BioPy thermokinetic oscillator. It features reciprocally coupled endothermic and exothermic reactions and is therefore is a special case of an Endex reacting system, that is used by nature to regulate global carbon cycles.
CharXiving as a physically meaningful term applies specifically to biochar creation rather than black carbon in general. The outcome of a charXiving process is net removal of carbon from the atmospheric pool and storage in the black carbon pool. Thus, on the timescales of interest, biomass may be charXived but plastics made from petroleum may not, and used tyres are partially charXive-able.
In broad terms, the CharXive Challenge deals with scientific and technological questions associated with increasing the biochar carbon pool at the expense of the atmospheric carbon pool given that the only way into the biochar carbon pool is through thermoconversion of biomass.
In the complementary strand of this project, the Clean Coal Quest, I am working with an industry partner, Calix Ltd, to develop a novel technology, called the Endex Calcium Looping reactor, that will achieve the first economically viable separation of carbon dioxide from flue gas emissions and gasification plants and is retrofittable to existing plants. A 5MW demonstration plant incorporating an Endex Calcium Looping reactor is currently under construction at Bacchus Marsh in Victoria.
Both strands of this research are based on Endex concepts and principles that I published in 1999.
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