Richardson Travel Bursary Recipient, Oluwafunmilola Ola reports from Singapore

23 Jul 2015

Oluwafunmilola Ola was awarded a Richardson Travel Bursary in 2015. Below, she explains how her attendance at the 13th International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilization gave her an opportunity to broaden her knowledge and understanding of the field, whilst creating a platform to exchange ideas and current information as well as network with other like-minded scientists.

‘The 13th International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilization held on 5 - 9 July in University Town(NUS), Singapore, was one of the most important gatherings of experts (including academics and industrialists) in the field of carbon capture and utilisation from around the world. This biennial conference provided a multidisciplinary forum for joining outstanding scholars to discuss recent innovations in fundamental and applied aspects of carbon dioxide (CO2) utilisation and understanding the various ways to capture and convert sunlight directly into useful energy or for the storage of solar energy in the form of chemical products that can be indirectly used as a source of energy. Over 306 delegates from 32 countries across the world were in attendance. The conference theme was focused on product, process and systems for CO2 utilisation. The product, process and system themes were split into 10, 3 and 1 research sub themes, respectively. A total of 6 plenary lectures, 9 keynotes and 171 oral presentations were given during the conference and 54 posters were presented in two lunchtime poster sessions. The conference programme was divided into tracks with 4 or 5 parallel sessions running concurrently. Each day started with a plenary lecture or roundtable session and each track included keynote presentations and shorter oral communications. These sessions provided an opportunity to attend a broad range of topics related to CO2 capture and conversion. My overall experience of the conference was positive. The conference was well organised and the social and poster events provided excellent networking opportunities with leading experts in CO2 conversion.

‘I primarily attended sessions on CO2 conversion to chemicals and photo-electro-chemical conversion since my research topic falls within these themes. I particularly enjoyed listening to talks that gave in-depth knowledge on the synthesis and characterisation of novel nanomaterials for CO2 conversion. It was also interesting to discover that someone else in the UK was working with monoliths. Beyond those talks closely linked to my research, I attended cross disciplinary sessions that covered topics ranging from life cycle analysis, economics and policy to materials production. These talks created the avenue to learn and broaden my knowledge about parallel research investigations that used CO2 as the chemical feedstock. The fascinating talks by the research team from Kyoto University on photocatalytic split of CO2 into CO and O2 and effect of chloride ions on photocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide in an aqueous solution over Ni-Al LDH photocatalyst were a particular standout for me.

‘Obtaining carbon-based fuels and chemicals from the photocatalytic conversion of CO2 serves as one of the promising routes to address both increasing energy demands and climate change. My oral presentation focused on the use of two dimensional polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) plates coated with nanostructured cerium based TiO2 for CO2 photocatalytic reduction to fuels was well received by a varied audience. The objective of this work was to develop and test pure TiO2 and CeO2-TiO2 films of varying compositions deposited on two dimensional PMMA plates from low temperature sol-gel processed sols for CO2 photoreduction. I also presented a poster titled Methanol production from chromium based TiO2 honeycomb monoliths. I was pleased with the questions and constructive feedback from experts on catalyst synthesis and photoreactor configuration. I also had the opportunity to interact with researchers engaged in similar topics after the talk. This experience was invaluable as they offered insights into their work which provided ideas that can be used in the future.

‘Not only did this conference represent an opportunity to broaden my knowledge and understanding of this vast field, but it also created a platform for the exchange of ideas and up-to-date information which could be incorporated into my research and disseminated to my colleagues through group meetings and seminars in my research division. While allowing expert feedback on my current work initiated during my PhD programme, it also stimulated ideas which enhanced my understanding and highlighted emerging areas for further research. ICCDU provided the opportunity to present my work within the field of CO2 conversion and served as a platform to showcase research being conducted at Heriot-Watt University. Finally, networking with other scholars and exchanging invaluable contact in a friendly atmosphere was a valuable experience for me and could lead to plans for collaborative work in the future. Overall, the comprehensive knowledge, practical experience and network of contacts that was gained from ICCDU will contribute towards the acquisition of vital skills that will enable me to proffer practicable and cost effective solutions to the prevailing and perennial environmental problem of CO2 emissions particularly in the United Kingdom.

‘I would like to thank SCI for the provision of a travel bursary that allowed me to attend this conference, without which this trip would not have been possible.’

Oluwafunmilola Ola
Research Associate at the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

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