BC partners with science foundation working on carbon burial

Feb. 15—Bakersfield College has struck an agreement with a prominent laboratory foundation in the Bay Area that could advance local efforts to establish a carbon-management hub benefitting Kern County's economy.

A news release Tuesday said the new partnership between BC and the Livermore Lab Foundation will provide scientific technical assistance, community education and workforce development. It said the arrangement will also support state and local efforts to fight climate change through work like carbon dioxide removal and storage.

The collaboration builds on BC's creation last fall of the Valley Strong Energy Institute and the college's relationship with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It could fit well with a series of carbon capture and burial initiatives being pursued by local industry and county government.

The foundation is the nonprofit behind Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which in 2020 released a study that said California can achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, in part by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and burying it in underground oil formations in Kern that are well-suited to the purpose. Several local oil producers have since proposed building such installations.

BC said its new partnership with the foundation will connect top scientists with the college's students, providing research expertise, grant application assistance and help with regional initiatives. It also said scientists at Lawrence Livermore will serve on the Valley Strong institute's advisory committee and support other task forces to keep carbon management near the top of local policy agendas.

In an understatement of the challenges ahead, a staff scientist at Lawrence Livermore who will serve on the advisory committee, Kimberley Mayfield, called California's carbon neutrality goal "ambitious."

"It will require innovation and implementation of both existing and new technologies," Mayfield said in the release. "We look forward to working collaboratively with Bakersfield College and others in the greater Kern County region to help achieve these goals."

Foundation Executive Director Sally Allen added that the lab is working hard on climate resiliency and trying to find practical applications and solutions.

"Our partnership with Bakersfield College will provide a connection to that expertise — expanding access to quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, research and fellowship opportunities," Allen said in the release.

The Valley Strong Energy Institute's director, Liz Rozell, added that a decision to also include the foundation on the advisory committee solidifies BC's plan to support a "smart energy transition locally and statewide."

"Strategic technical partners will guide and advise our research, policy and workforce programs at the Energy Institute to ensure we are providing the most innovative training for our students and the community," she stated.