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10 November 2014

Mobile labs on show

What do you do at the biggest one-day show in the Southern Hemisphere? Tour a mobile containerised laboratory between eating fairy floss and riding the dodgem cars, is what.

Lady standing in front of a shipping container at a rural show

Dr Linda Stalker, NGL Science Director, in front of the mobile containerised lab at this year’s Brunswick Agricultural Show.

The Brunswick Agricultural Show in the south-west of Western Australia – the biggest one-day show in the Southern Hemisphere – is famous for its prize-winning cakes, cows and carnival attractions. But this year, showgoers were also invited to take a look around the latest piece of equipment being used to support carbon storage research in the area.

Showgoers were able to tour one of the new mobile laboratories purchased by the National Geosequestration Laboratory (NGL) – a collaboration between CSIRO, The University of Western Australia and Curtin University established to conduct and deploy critical research and development to enable commercial-scale carbon storage options for Australia.

The mobile laboratory, which is one of three, is a customised shipping container that will be used for research in the field.

The laboratories are state-of-the-art. They can withstand extreme temperatures (-10° to 45° celsius) and can even be used as a refuge from external fires or gases for up to one hour.

“Visitors were intrigued by the converted shipping container and we had a steady stream of visitors taking a good look around,” Dr Linda Stalker, NGL Science Director, said.

Inside the laboratories, showgoers could check out the latest mobile analytical equipment including a bench-top mass spectrometer – which measures gases such as methane, carbon dioxide (CO2), argon, or tracers such as sulphur hexafluoride – and a Picarro cavity ring down mass spectrometer, which can measure isotopes of carbon dioxide and methane simultaneously.

A gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) was also on display. This particular GCMS had also been on tour with CSIRO around the Gulf of Mexico, monitoring the plume of spilled oil from the Macondo disaster.

“We were able to open it up and demonstrate how it worked to interested showgoers,” Dr Stalker said.

Showgoers at the display were especially interested in how the mobile containerised laboratories would be used in the South West Hub carbon capture and storage (CCS) project – a CCS development in the region for which NGL is the lead research partner.

“It’s great to be able to engage with the local community and discuss the latest developments in the South West Hub project,” Dr Stalker said.

NGL is making significant steps towards establishing itself as one of the world’s leading research and development providers in carbon storage, and geosciences more broadly.

A new CO2 Geosequestration Research Laboratory at The University of Western Australia was officially opened on Thursday 6 November. The $10 million laboratory forms part of the NGL and features the latest geophysical surveying and data analysis equipment to support scientists undertaking research into new techniques to transport and store carbon dioxide.

 

For media enquiries, please contact Nikki Galovic at nikki.galovic@csiro.au or on +61 477 733 351

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Australian Government Department of Education CSIRO The University of Western Australia Curtin University Western Australian Energy Research Alliance