Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering Dr Samintha Perera has been awarded the Australian Academy of Sciences 2022 Dorothy Hill Medal for early career researchers.
Dr Perera was recognised for advancing our understanding of complications that can occur when we attempt to reduce greenhouse emissions through geo-storage of carbon dioxide in coal seams.
Watch a short video to learn more about Dr Perera's research:
Australia’s per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are among the world’s highest, and the recent flood, drought and bushfire crises clearly illustrate our vulnerability to increases in greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting changes to climate.
Although carbon dioxide geo-storage in deep coal seams can play a vital role in emission reduction, at such depths (one kilometre or more underground), CO2 is converted into a highly chemically reactive “supercritical CO2 (scCO2)”. This can cause unpredictable CO2 flow behaviours in coal seams, and even cause the gases that have been stored to leak back into the atmosphere.
Dr Perera discovered the unique interaction between the coal mass and scCO2 and the resulting impacts on underground applications.
According to her findings, all these unique scCO2 behaviours in coal seams are caused by the significant coal matrix swelling, caused by the interaction of coal and scCO2.
She found that scCO2 could still be effective as a fracking fluid for coal reservoirs.
The Dorothy Hill Medal honours the contributions of the late Professor Dorothy Hill AC CBE FAA FRS to Australian Earth science and her work in opening up tertiary science education to women. Professor Hill became Australia's first woman professor in 1959 when she became Professor of Geology at the University of Queensland.
The award supports research in the Earth sciences, by women researchers up to 10 years post PhD in the calendar year of nomination.
First published on 19 August 2022.
Share this article
Read more Melbourne Climate Hub
Our Climate Capability
From water management and clean energy production, to how we build truly sustainable cities, explore the critical role our experts are playing in Australia’s response to the global climate challenge.
Climate change is a collective concern impacting all facets of our economy, society and environment. Find out how we’re partnering with industry, government and community – both locally and internationally – to solve these pressing challenges together.
Big Climate Ideas
Real change needs original thought. From Indigenous land management to clean transport and preserving our biodiversity, these are some of the bold ideas our experts are pursuing to make sure we stay ahead of the next climate challenge.
Melbourne Climate Futures
Melbourne Climate Futures builds on decades of research across areas such as climate change impacts in the Pacific, energy futures, bushfire resilience, and sustainable cities, as well as innovative approaches to policy and law.