A day in the life - Professor Peter Styring

Ski fanatic and would-be-filmmaker, Professor Peter Styring, has recently returned from an exchange project with a civil servant from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The author of the acclaimed Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Green Economy, and Director of Research in the department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, tells Discover about a day in a life that is often disbelieved by those who look at his time sheets.

5.00 am
My father has been ill and this is early even for me. But it’s a good, quiet time and I have a piece to write for Politics First on carbon dioxide utilisation. It gets us in front of decision makers in Westminster and Whitehall.

7.00 am
Boot up the iPad and have a quick scan through Bloomberg and the BBC to see if there are any energy issues trending. There’s a lot of debate about the EU Referendum. A lot of our funding comes from the Commission. There’s a lot of uncertainty over what an ‘out’ vote would mean.

8.00 am
Down to Virgin Active. I try to keep fit, but it is a battle. The spa there is a source of great ideas. Then back home for a bite to eat. My daughter is trying to turn me vegan.

8.45 am
Swearing at the traffic on the way in to work. The road planning is appalling but not as bad as the potholes!

9.00 am
Radio Five. Love Nicky Campbell on “Your Call”. There’s a debate about wind farms. The usual nimbies are sounding off. I call in and have a lively debate. Did the Dutch ever have these arguments when they built their multi-purpose windmills? The level of debate on energy in the UK needs some serious evidence based discussion. It won’t be long before we have energy shortages. We need to look at the problem now before it’s too late

9.30 am
Emails. Agree to meet a big company in the energy area who are thinking of investing in our CO2 utilisation research.

9.35 am
Call the Orkneys. We are working with the Shapinsay community to see how they can use the energy from their wind turbines when it is not going to the grid. We hope to use the wind energy, water and carbon dioxide to convert it into agricultural diesel. We’ve done a feasibility study and we are looking for funding from Scottish government to get this off the ground.

10.30 am

The folk over at Automatic Control and Systems Engineering have called a meeting but not said what the agenda is. I love the air of mystery. They’re great potential collaborators.

12.00 pm
Eat the Quorn pasta I took out of the fridge this morning. Talk to my team about the investors who want to get behind our smart approach to carbon capture and utilisation. We are working to fund a new research centre. It will bring researchers from around the UK to use common facilities as an accelerator. It also puts us in good position to say to Brussels that we should also be the European Centre – we have great connectivity.

1.30 pm
Final run through of three carbon dioxide utilisation documents that the European Commission have funded us to write. They will define the measures needed to fund the future of carbon dioxide utilisation in Europe. Billions of euros potentially available in this field.

4.00 pm
Call Matthew Billson over at Energy 2050. I want his advice on this Politics First article. He was Head of Strategy on Carbon Capture and Storage at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Private Secretary to two Secretaries of State. It’s great to have him as a sounding board.

Peter Styring

4.30 pm
Talk to Jo Johnson’s office. I met him at an event in Westminster and he seemed keen to attend the final day of the International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilisation that Sheffield is hosting in September. It’s the first time it’s been held in the UK – recently it’s been held in Singapore and the USA. It shows we are becoming recognised as being world leaders in the field.

6.00 pm
Home. Quick tea then look over a project we are putting together with colleagues in India about how to remediate toxic waste, recovering metals of high value, saving the topsoil and at the same time refertilising it. A synergistic chain where everything is for a reason – the circular economy in action.

9.30 pm
Up to the recording studio in the loft where I have my electronic drum kit, three guitars, and digital grand piano. I did a Senior Media Fellowship and went to the French Alps to make a film. The cameraman couldn’t ski so we did a deal – I would teach him to ski if he taught me cinematography. Now I’m learning how to compose soundtracks. Heaven.

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