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DOE-backed summit to come to Houston to address carbon management

This fall, Rice University's research hub will host a DOE-backed event focused on carbon management. Photo via Rice/Facebook

Climate change-focused multimedia company Climate Now announced this week that it will partner with the city of Houston and Rice University to host a Carbon Management Community Summit this fall.

The summit, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, will be held at Rice University Bioscience Research Collaborative on November 16 and 17, and will feature interactive workshops and breakout learning sessions, as well as presentations and discussions from excerpts in the field. It will also be broadcasted virtually for those who cannot attend the event in person.

Key topics are set to include:

  • Carbon management technologies
  • The regulatory process for implementation and oversight
  • How to get involved in project development
  • How to minimize and mitigate risks
  • How to ensure that projects benefit local communities and workforce development

The summit will also focus on the DOE's plans to launch the Responsible Carbon Management Initiative, which aims to promote safety and accountability in carbon management projects, according to the department.

"The Department of Energy is committed to supporting carbon management opportunities that build on Houston's current initiatives while also ensuring that communities and other impacted stakeholders are at the center of those efforts,” Brad Crabtree, assistant secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management at the DOE, said in a statement. “Ultimately, communities and stakeholders can become project partners whose ideas and concerns can improve project design and outcomes, and ensure that tangible economic and environmental benefits flow to affected communities.”

The event also aims to bring the community, industry leaders, government officials and educational institutions to the same table.

"“It is our responsibility to develop innovative technologies and practices that will reduce carbon emissions, and as we do this, we also have a responsibility to address environmental injustices and lift up communities that have been historically under-resourced,” Mayor Sylvester Turner added in the statement.

The event, which has registration open online, is free to attend, and a speaker list and agenda are slated to be announced in the coming weeks. Participants can attend one or both days of the event. A Spanish translation will be available onsite and virtually.

The Carbon Management Community Summit marks the second time Rice and the DOE have partnered on an energy innovation event. In July the DOE announced $100 million in funding for its SCALEUP program at an event for more than 100 energy innovators at the university.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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