Professor Matthew Hall is the Director of the GeoEnergy Research Centre (GERC) which is a joint initiative between the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the University of Nottingham. In 2014 he was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellowship supported by the BGS, for research into alternative hydrocarbons and CO2 storage and associated technologies. In 2016 this was upgraded to a RAEng Research Chair following Matthew's promotion to Professor of Materials Engineering.
Through this prestigious Chair, Professor Hall works with the BGS on a range of research challenges including enhanced oil and gas recovery and safe, permanent and economic CO2 sequestration and utilisation. He also investigates how to effectively produce alternative hydrocarbons, such as shale gas and coal bed methane, with minimal environmental impact.
Professor Hall is leading the development of the Geoenergy Test Bed (GTB) facility based at Nottingham. This is a multi-borehole test site for studying underground fluid movement in porous reservoir rocks. Equipped with permanently monitored sensors, both on the surface and down-hole, the site will provide valuable information on fluid-rock interaction. It is intended to become a UK National Facility and platform for the development of novel sensors, monitoring technologies and simulation software.
Tackling the UK's energy challenges requires initiatives that bring together researchers and engineers across disciplines and sectors. The fellowship has enabled Professor Hall to take a lead role in Phase One of the GeoEnergy strand of the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA); a partnership of six universities and the BGS seeking to develop the research and technologies required to shape the UK's energy landscape over the next 40 years. ERA has received £180m investment from industry and UK Government, amongst others.
Through his work with GERC and G-ERA, Professor Hall has also leveraged a £42m software donation from Schlumberger (the world's largest oilfield services company) to develop software and sensor technologies using the GTB facility. Furthermore, "the strategic partnership with Schlumberger will enable support for student projects and specialist training in software and modelling for students and staff", he explains.
Consolidating the work with GERC and G-ERA will provide the platform to support Professor Hall's research over the longer term, and the BGS is a partner in both initiatives.
Professor Michael Stephenson, Director of Science and Technology (BGS) says:
"Professor Hall's research is very important to BGS' strategic science into the next decade, which substantially examines the uses of the subsurface in low carbon energy, including carbon capture and storage, geothermal, energy storage and aspects of unconventional hydrocarbons."
The RAEng Research Chairs and Senior Fellowships scheme aims to strengthen the links between industry and academia by supporting exceptional academics in UK universities to undertake user-inspired research that meets the needs of the industrial partners. Awards are co-funded by the Academy and the industry partner and last for five years.
"My Research Chair has completely altered the trajectory of my research career, whilst giving me the freedom and opportunity to transform my vision into reality."