Deep Earth Carbon

Carbon is the fundamental building block of life. Its behavior and movement as it cycles through the Earth impacts our understanding of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which causes global warming and climate change, impacts carbon storage in the form of fossil fuels, and the availability of other elements or compounds tied to carbon. Such understanding could further shed insight on diamond formation and the controversial topic of abiogenic petroleum synthesis.

Using quantum simulations to further the knowledge of the carbon cycle in the deep Earth, cross-disciplinary expert in physics and chemistry, Prof Ding Pan, has made several revelations. Unlike previous theories, he discovered that carbon dissolved in water-rich fluids in the upper mantle resides in the form of ions, instead of a mixture of carbon dioxide and water, potentially increasing the possibility of reactions with other minerals.

Prof Pan’s curiosity extends to finding out how diamonds are made, exploring energy storage and sustaining the environment. His research will be supported by the Croucher Innovation Award for the next five years.

Prof Ding Pan is Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in the HKUST Departments of Physics and Chemistry, as a member of the interdisciplinary Sustainability Cluster of appointments. He is an affiliated faculty member of the HKUST Energy Institute. He won the Croucher Innovation Award in 2018. He is the only Hong Kong member of the Deep Carbon Observatory, an international collaboration of more than 1,000 scientists.

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