Rachel Wignall

By Rachel Wignall, PhD Student at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences. Rachel reports from Canada where she recently attended the IEAGHG Summer School and carried out fieldwork for her project.

As a PhD student in my first year researching Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), I was excited to attend this year’s IEAGHG Summer School at The University of Regina, Saskatchewan. Whilst there, I met and formed friendships with the 35 other students who had travelled from 14 countries worldwide, all of whom where actively researching different aspects of CCS. It was really great to meet the next generation of CCS researchers, talk about our projects and discuss the future of CCS within our countries.

The IEAGHG Summer School also provided me with the opportunity to meet international CCS experts, covering the whole CCS chain. We were encouraged to ask challenging questions to further our own knowledge, whilst learning about aspects that we may have never encountered. The highlight of my week however was our trip to SaskPower Boundary Dam and PTRC Aquistore. Having read countless literature about the two facilities, it was an amazing opportunity to attend a guided tour with professionals who where open to any and all questions!

saskpower tour
(Left): Attendees of the IEAGHG Summer School during the Boundary Dam tour, (Right): SaskPower’s Boundary Dam.

My PhD is focussed upon constraining the geochemical fingerprint of carbon dioxide (CO2) for use in monitoring carbon sequestration reservoirs, therefore my trip to Aquistore was especially exciting as I was able to visit a geological field laboratory which aims to demonstrate that storing of CO2 is a safe and workable solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

aquistore geochemical observation
(Left): Summer School attendees on a guided tour around Aquistore, (Right): Geochemical observation well at Aquistore.

After a fantastic week at the IEAGHG Summer School, I was then on a flight to Calgary to meet my supervisor, Dr Stuart Gilfillan, to undertake geochemical sampling fieldwork. As part of my PhD, I am lucky to work with Carbon Management Canada at their CaMI Field Research Site in Brooks, Alberta. Their Field Research Station is designed to track and monitor underground fluids by developing, refining and calibrating monitoring technologies. My project focuses upon using the natural isotopic fingerprint of CO2 and its noble gas composition in order to trace and monitor injected CO2. Injection of CO2 began this week (w/c 31st July 2017), and I am hoping to return in the coming months to collect some more samples to compliment the baseline samples collected last week (w/c 24th July 2017).

noble gas analysis
(Left): Sample collecting for noble gas analysis, with the help of Kirk Osadetz, CMC, (Centre): CMC Field Research Station, Brooks, Alberta, and, (Right): Dr Stuart Gilfillan adapting surface casing vent ready for sample collection.

Overall, my trip to Canada has been a fantastic learning experience that has not only further developed my CCS knowledge, but also taught me how to plan and undertake a successful geochemical sampling regime. Now to the lab (SUERC) in order to analyse my samples and get some great results!

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