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My PhD experience – Monica Garcia Ortega, Chemical and Process Engineering

“It’s great to know that the study I’ve conducted could benefit the future energy picture by enabling advanced CO2 capture systems.”

I decided to come to Surrey for my PhD because of the flexibility the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering offered in terms of the design of the project, and also the support and training options it offered.

I love ‘green technologies’ and for my Masters thesis I did a techno-economic comparison of the most common CO2 capture technologies. One of the main technologies used to capture CO2 – post-combustion – can be installed on current power plants without further modification, but the price associated with this process is still high. Finding new solvents could reduce these operation costs, and this has been the focus of my PhD at Surrey.

I am due to complete my PhD in June this year and have achieved my key aim: developing solvents with better performance than traditional solutions. In addition, I have created new and validated simulation models that can represent the behaviour of novel solvents, which will help researchers to predict CO2 capture using different solvents. This is crucial because experiments, particularly at large scale, are expensive. It’s great to know that the study I’ve conducted could benefit the future energy picture by enabling advanced CO2 capture systems

During my PhD I was supervised both by Surrey and an external collaborator, NTNU, where I also spent a year as a visiting researcher. This was very beneficial because I got the opportunity to work in a different environment and with new experimental set-ups. I was part of a group of people with similar research interests who had valuable inputs and perspectives to share.

Sometimes you can get so focused on your research, you forget that there are other skills you need to develop too – such as writing, presenting posters, communication and networking. As a PhD student in Surrey’s Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, I’ve had the opportunity to take multiple training courses to improve these skills, which has been really useful in supporting my research experience.

My personal objective in undertaking a PhD was to develop my expertise in Carbon Capture from lab to industrial scale. I feel I’m now ready to apply the simulation and experimental skills I’ve gained.

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