New Study Finds CMU’s Rubin Leads in Carbon Capture and Storage Research

The effects of climate change are evident worldwide — and carbon capture and storage (CCS) — where CO2 is removed from the output of industrial processes and fossil fuel power plants — or is directly captured from the air — is gaining widespread attention as a potentially critical option for avoiding the dangerous impacts of climate change.

A recent analysis published in the international journal Science of the Total Environment takes a social science approach to examining CCS research trends, hotspots and main modeling techniques. The article, written by an interdisciplinary team of researchers in Beijing reveals that Carnegie Mellon University’s Edward S. Rubin is the world’s most prolific and highly cited author of CCS-related academic publications, and co-author (with former Engineering and Public Policy Ph.D. student Anand Rao) of the most highly cited paper on this topic.

“These findings indicate how impactful Ed’s research is in this area and the significant role carbon capture and storage might play in mitigating global warming,” said Jay Whitacre, director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation and Trustee Professor in the College of Engineering.

Rubin, a senior energy fellow in the Scott Institute and the Alumni Chair Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science in the Departments of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) and Mechanical Engineering, works closely with EPP Associate Research Professor Haibo Zhai. Zhai, a faculty affiliate in the Scott Institute, appears eighth on the list of most productive researchers in this field in terms of citations and h-index, a metric measuring the productivity and citation impact of a scientist’s publications.

Using a method called bibliometric analysis, the study’s authors examined the characteristics of peer-reviewed literature on the environmental, economic and social aspects of CCS from 1997 to 2017. Of the 10 leading institutes in the world studying CCS, they found that Carnegie Mellon ranks second in overall productivity, just under the U.S. Department of Energy. The university has published four percent of all CCS papers in the world, 18% of U.S. papers and has received by far the most citations.

“It’s especially gratifying to see these results,” Rubin said. “We set out to have an impact on this field, and this exceeds my expectations. It’s a real tribute to the interdisciplinary environment at Carnegie Mellon, which has allowed so many students, faculty and researchers to contribute to our collective success.”

Rubin is renowned for exploring technical, economic and policy issues related to energy and the environment, including electric power systems, CCS technologies, climate change mitigation strategies, energy and environmental technology innovation, government policies and integrated assessments.

He is a Fellow Member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a National Associate Member of The National Academies and recipient of the Air & Waste Management Association Lyman A. Ripperton Award for distinguished achievements as an educator. Rubin was a member of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize together with former Vice President Al Gore.

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