IBM’s Carbon Capture Research Effort validates hybrid cloud model


I met with Mathias Steiner, a researcher from the IBM lab in Rio de Janeiro. He spoke about the amazing work IBM is doing with a network of labs all working on sustainability, and Material discovery with a focus on carbon capture and storage.

There are two ways to remove pollutants from the atmosphere. One is to stop production and let the earth heal itself, and another is to pull the CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it somewhere else, ideally in a repository that will hold it indefinitely. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive and, if used together, could bring about significant changes in the quality of our air and water while reversing much of what is currently causing climate change.

Let’s talk about that this week.

carbon capture

This is an interesting and relatively new approach to removing CO2 from the atmosphere. You choose a substance that can contain CO2, such as lava rock with lots of air pockets, and you use that substance to store captured CO2. You can either do this process below the surface in existing geological formations, or use it as a building material (if the process doesn’t release CO2), and you’ve effectively sequestered (locked up) that gas, much like a person committing a crime.

A lot of work is currently being done to find or produce the ideal substances for binding carbon. In the process, new materials for carbon capture and conversion were found. This technology will be adapted to other forms of materials research, e.g. B. the search for superior materials for energy storage, and could open a way to replace declining supplies of rare earth metals, which are crucial for electronics manufacturing.

Complex materials are very difficult to analyze. The analysis requires enormous amounts of computing power and large-scale simulations to determine both the effectiveness of the material and ways to use it more efficiently. This means that once a potential ideal candidate for the effort has been discovered, the computational workload of analysts varies widely, from simple database queries to full molecular analysis to test the viability of the resulting theory.

Validate Hybrid Cloud

This huge variability in processing power is ideal for a hybrid and multi-cloud environment, as it eliminates the need to purchase supercomputing power that you only need occasionally. Instead you can rent it. And you can choose from multiple providers to find the cheapest instance you need to get the job done. The more money you save on research, the more money you have for additional research, which could increase the likelihood of finding the ideal material for a specific task like carbon sequestration.

IBM’s approach is to enable organizations to have a variety of cloud resources and material discovery tools at their disposal, which can be dynamically selected as needed and centrally managed to provide the lowest cost and highest security guarantee. The most secure endeavors associated with either Watson or quantum computing also largely take place on the IBM Cloud.

This degree of flexibility and performance is unique in this segment. With IBM Labs doing much of the work, this is a clear benefit to IBM and its ongoing efforts to reduce carbon and mitigate climate change.

Wrap up

Carbon sequestration and unique material identification have broad applications, from reducing carbon in the atmosphere to finding new and better materials to build almost anything, including revolutionary batteries and manufacturing materials. The effort is also a showcase for IBM’s multi-cloud approach, as it requires resource availability ranging from local workstations to remote supercomputers, depending on the phase of the project and the nature of the analysis and simulation.

Ultimately, this carbon sequestration effort has far-reaching implications across a wide range of industries, and as a hybrid multicloud flagship, it’s also impressively capable.


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