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2015

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    Posters and presentations from the UKCCSRC Call 1 Project: Mixed matrix membranes for post combustion carbon capture (Mar 2013 to Dec 2015). Membrane processes are a promising alternative to the more classical post-combustion capture technologies due to the reduced maintenance of the process, the absence of dangerous solvents and their smaller footprint. This project aims at supporting the development of new mixed matrix membranes for post-combustion applications. Mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) are composite materials formed by embedding inorganic fillers into a polymeric matrix in order to overcome the upper bound and combine the characteristics of the two solid phases: mechanical properties, economical processing capabilities and permeability of the polymer and selectivity of the filler. Despite several studies on the concept, the interactions between the two phases and their effect on the transport properties are not well understood. Yet, this fundamental knowledge is crucial in order to design the reliable materials needed for real-world-applications.

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    The project is mainly experimental in nature. Sieved samples of a variety of UK, Canadian and Spanish limestones will be pre-calcined and sintered at elevated temperatures to differing extents under various steam atmospheres, potentially with the addition of salts. The relativities of the produced materials will be tested, initially in a thermogravimetric analyser and subsequently in a small electrically-heated fluidised bed. If time allows, extended work will be conducted at elevated pressure (10 - 20 bar), more typical of conditions in pre-combustion capture. In essence, the aim of the project is to develop inexpensive sorbents for CO2 to work within an efficient thermodynamic cycle. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-206.

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    This poster on the UKCCSRC Call 2 project, Advanced Sorbents for CCS via Controlled Sintering, was presented at the Cardiff Biannual_10.09.14. Grant number: UKCCSRC-C2-206.

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    In this study, two strategies, thermal pretreatment and chemical doping, were investigated as a method of improving the residual carrying capacity of Longcliffe and Havelock limestone for calcium looping systems. Four parameters were varied during thermal pretreatment: temperature (900-1100 degrees C), time (3-12 hr), gas composition (0-100 % CO2 balanced in N2) and particle size (90-355 micrometre). After pre-calcination, the sorbents were subjected to 20 carbonation-calcination cycles performed in a thermographic analyser (TGA) to monitor any signs of sorbent improvement. The degradation of sorbent activity was modelled using the decay equation suggested by Grasa and Abanades (2006). Both Longcliffe and Havelock samples showed self-reactivation when pretreated under CO2, however this did not result in a greater carrying capacity after 20 carbonation/calcination cycles compared to the untreated limestone. For chemical doping, Longcliffe doped using 0.167 mol % HBr via quantitative wet impregnation method resulted in an increase in residual carrying capacity of 27.4 % after thermal pre-treatment under CO2 when compared to the untreated but doped limestone, assuming self-reactivation continued as modelled. When Longcliffe was doped and then pretreated under pure N2, the limestone showed self-reactivation, which was not seen in the undoped sorbent when also pretreated under N2. Thus, the success of pretreatment may be dependent on the chemical composition of the limestone. Finally, BET surface area and BJH pore volume analysis was used to understand the changes in the sorbents' morphologies. The closure of the mesopores (dpore<150 nm) after the pretreatment was correlated to the self-reactivation in the subsequent cycles.

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    Data generated using freely-available satellite remote sensing observations from the USGS Earth Resources Observation Science Centre, together with a freely-available ice margin chronology from Dyke et al. (2003) Geological Survey of Canada Open File Report No. 1574. The map is published in the Journal of Maps: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17445647.2014.912036 Published article in 'Nature' Volume 530 Feb 2016 with associated source data. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature16947 Published paper in the Taylor Francis Online Journal with associated data. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17445647.2014.912036

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    The co-evolution and geographical spread of trees and deep-rooting systems is widely proposed to represent the 'Devonian engine' of global change that drove the weathering of soil minerals and biogeochemical cycling of elements to exert a major influence on the Earth's atmospheric CO2 history. If correct, this paradigm suggests the evolutionary appearance of forested ecosystems through the Devonian (418-360 Myr ago) constitutes the single most important biotic feedback on the geochemical carbon cycle to emerge during the entire 540 Myr duration of the Phanaerozoic. Crucially, no link has yet been established between the evolutionary advance of trees and their geochemical impacts on palaeosols. Direct evidence that one has affected the other is still awaited, largely because of the lack of cross-disciplinary investigations to date. Our proposal addresses this high level 'earth system science' challenge. The overarching objective is to provide a mechanistic understanding of how the evolutionary rise of deep-rotting forests intensified weathering and pedogenesis that constitute the primary biotic feedbacks on the long-term C-cycle. Our central hypothesis is that the evolutionary advance of trees left geochemical effects detectable in palaeosols as forested ecosystems increased the quantity and depth of chemical energy transported into the soil through roots, mycorrhizal fungi and litter. This intensified soil acidification, increased the strength of isotopic and elemental enrichment in surface soil horizons, enhanced the weathering of Ca-Si and Ca-P minerals, and the formation of pedogenic clays, leading to long-term sequestration of atmospheric CO2 through the formation of marine carbonates with the liberated terrestrial Ca. We will investigate this research hypothesis by obtaining and analysing well-preserved palaeosol profiles from a time sequence of localities in the eastern North America through the critical Silurian-Devonian interval that represents Earth's transition to a forested planet. These palaeosol sequences will then be subjected to targeted geochemical, clay mineralogical and palaeontological analyses. This will allow, for the first time, the rooting structures of mixed and monospecific Mid-Devonian forests to be directly linked to palaeosol weathering profiles obtained by drilling replicate unweathered profiles. Weathering by these forests will be compared with the 'control case' - weathering by pre-forest, early vascular land plants with diminutive/shallow rooting systems from Silurian and lower Devonian localities. These sites afford us the previously unexploited ability to characterize the evolution of plant-root-soil relationships during the critical Silurian-Devonian interval, whilst at the same time controlling for the effects of palaeogeography and provenance on palaeosol development. Applying geochemical analyses targeted at elements and isotopes that are strongly concentrated by trees at the surface of contemporary soils, and which show major changes in abundance through mineral weathering under forests, provides a powerful new strategy to resolve and reconstruct the intensity and depth of weathering and pedogenesis at different stages in the evolution of forested ecosystems. The project is tightly focused on "improving current knowledge of the interaction between the evolution of life and the Earth", which represents one of the three high level challenges within NERC's Earth System Science Theme.

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    Advances in our understanding of the Earth's climate system will rely on our ability to link high-resolution sedimentary archives from the oceans, ice-cores and terrestrial sequences, and to interpret these records in the context of novel Earth system modeling approaches. Few places exist in the world where sufficiently detailed and unambiguous marine-ice-terrestrial linkages are possible. One challenge for IODP, and the broader drilling community in general, is to identify and recover marine, ice and terrestrial sequences from appropriate locations and with adequate temporal resolution to study processes of the integrated climate system. One such region is the southwest Iberian Margin where it has been demonstrated that the surface oxygen isotopic record could be correlated precisely to temperature variations (i.e., d18O) in Greenland ice cores. By comparison, the benthic d18O signal in the same core resembled the temperature record from Antarctica. Moreover, the narrow continental shelf and proximity of the Tagus River results in the rapid delivery of terrestrial material to the deep-sea environment off Portugal, thereby providing a record of atmospheric changes and permitting correlation of marine and ice core records to European terrestrial sequences. This is the only place in the ocean where such marine-ice-terrestrial correlations have been demonstrated unambiguously. It is therefore highly desirable to extend the Iberian Margin record to encompass the full range of Plio-Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycles by drilling with the JOIDES Resolution (JR). Towards this end, Proposal 771-Full was submitted to IODP by an international group of 16 proponents led by the UK. The proposal was well received and reviewed by the Science Steering and Evaluation Panel (SSEP), but the IODP Site Survey Panel (SSP) identified major inadequacies in the quality of the seismic data: "The panel raised several concerns on the suitability of the submitted data with regard to its appropriateness, both to image the target properly and with regard to the site location. The panel also discussed the need for 2 high-resolution lines and considered that places where Mass Transport Deposits (MTDs) or closely spaced faults were present deserved these 2 high-resolution lines." This proposal requests 25 days of ship time to collect the necessary seismic and sediment data needed to meet the SSP requirements and recommendations. Several "stand-alone" scientific objectives are also proposed related to the modern hydrography and sedimentary processes on the southwest Iberian Margin, and calibration of palaeoceanographic proxies used for reconstructing past changes in deep-water circulation. This value-added science will make effective use of ship time and contribute key information needed to interpret the downcore records to be obtained by IODP.

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    This data contains the results of numerical simulations described in the following two papers: Alisic L., Rhebergen S., Rudge J.F., Katz R.F., Wells G.N. Torsion of a cylinder of partially molten rock with a spherical inclusion: theory and simulation (2016) Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst.16 doi:10.1002/2015GC006061 Alisic L., Rudge J.F., Katz R.F., Wells G.N., Rhebergen S. Compaction around a rigid, circular inclusion in partially molten rock (2014) J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 119:5903-5920 doi:10.1002/2013JB010906

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    Fission track and U-Th-He data used to test HeFTy and QTQt thermal history modelling software. Longmen Shan, Szechuan Province, China. Data received from NERC grant NE/K003232/1 4He/3He laser microprobe analysis: a disruptive new technology for in-situ U-Th-He thermochronology. Three HeFTy input files and two QTQt input files containing fission track lengths and U-Th-He data needed to reproduce Figures 7 and 8 of Vermeesch and Tian (2014, doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2014.09.010)

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    Isotope analysis data. Project details: The continental crust is our only archive of Earth history; not just of the crust itself but of the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere, and of the deep Earth through its interactions with the crust. This archive, like the rock record itself, is incomplete and much effort is focused on interrogating the crust to gain a clearer and more complete picture of Earth history. The continental rock record is episodic with, for example, ages of igneous crystallization, metamorphism, continental margins, and seawater and atmospheric proxies distributed about a series of peaks and troughs that in part correspond with the cycle of supercontinent assembly and dispersal. At the core of the debate is what these well-established peaks of ages in the geological record represent and how they develop. The peaks of ages correspond with periods of global assembly of continents to form supercontinents. The project will address whether the peaks of ages are primary features associated with supercontinent assembly or break up, or they are they secondary features representing greater preservation potential at the times of supercontinent assembly. Our work will focus on the Rodinian supercontinent cycle, which extends from initiation of convergent plate interaction around 1.7 Ga, to continental collision at 1.1-1.0 Ga during the Grenville orogeny, to final breakup of the supercontinent by 0.54 Ga. Detrital zircons from sedimentary units throughout the supercontinent cycle provide a record of the magmatic activity for which the igneous rocks are often no longer preserved. We will determine (i) the ages ranges of magmatic activity preserved in the sedimentary rocks in the 600 Ma pre-collision phase, and (ii) how and when the distinctive Grenville peak of ages developed by comparing the zircon record from samples pre-, syn- and post- Rodinian supercontinent assembly with estimated volumes of magma and numbers of zircons produced during the same interval. This will differentiate primary generation processes from secondary processes, constraining when the dominant age peak developed, the tectonic processes that operated, and hence the method by which it developed. The wider implications of when the continental crust formed are considerable. Studies of continental growth continue to uncritically assume that the geological and isotopic record provide insight into processes of crust formation. Until it can be established whether the record is the outcome of generational or preservational processes, or a combination of both, then drawing conclusions on this fundamental question in the Earth Sciences are premature. If the record is a preservational record then this impacts on understanding continental growth through time and on secondary questions of how the crustal record is used to unravel the temporal evolution of the hydrosphere and biosphere, and the distribution of mineral deposits.