September 25, 2015

Malaysian scientist wins Birkeland Prize

Yara’s Birkeland prize for 2015 is awarded to Dr. Pei Cheng Chua for her thesis Studies on New Classes of Low Dosage Hydrate Inhibitors, for which she was awarded a PhD at the University of Stavanger in 2013.
Dr. Pei Cheng Chua
Dr. Pei Cheng Chua

Being innovative is not something you think you are – either you’ve got it, or you don’t! A true innovator takes a seemingly impossible problem and renders it possible! Dr. Pei Cheng Chua from Malaysia is such a person.

The scientific problems that Dr. Chua addressed in her thesis find their application in the oil and gas industry within the field of gas hydrate plugging. Her thesis has made important contributions to overcoming one of the major challenges in production and transportation of gas and condensate in the oil and gas industry. She was awarded Yara’s Birkeland Prize at a ceremony hosted by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on Thursday 24 September.

In 1905, Kristian Birkeland’s research formed the basis for the foundation of the world’s first company to manufacture fertilizer on an industrial scale, Norsk Hydro and later Yara. Today Yara takes great pride in carrying this heritage forward and established the Birkeland Prize in Physics and Chemistry in 2009 to honor the innovative spirit of its co-founder.

A company’s continued success depends upon its ability to innovate. Since then, Yara’s Birkeland Prize has been be awarded every year to a PhD candidate from a Norwegian university who has carried out a scientific study that is in accordance with the innovative mind of Kristian Birkeland.

A true innovative scientist

Dr. Chua ‘s research focuses on how natural gas combined with produced water under high pressure and low ambient seabed temperatures can form hydrates and cause gas hydrate plugging, which in the worst case can completely halt the flow. Chua has designed, produced and pressure tested new Low Dosage Hydrate Inhibitors which have proved to perform better and have less environmental impact than products currently on the market.

“I hope that my research help to further develop the development of gas hydrate inhibitions, and furthermore becomes a good environmental friendly product,” Dr. Chua said. “I was in doubt if I should work in the oil & gas industry due to the impact this sector has on the environment. But we cannot eliminate the use of oil & gas overnight, and we need to overcome the gas hydrate problem industry, so I wanted to find better and more green ways to do it,” she explains.

The prize was awarded to Dr. Chua by Pierre Herben, Chief Technology Officer in Yara. “We are proud to award this year’s Birkeland Prize to Dr. Chua, she is a true innovative scientist,” Pierre Herben said. “Dr. Chua’s work has been very intriguing for us, because she has managed to find a very practical solution to a problem that has impact on the Upstream industry. She has used fundamental science and developed tools and a methodology to identify solutions, prototype, patent,” Pierre continued.

Yara’s Birkeland’s Prize has an emphasis on the environment and technology, and encourage research across traditional borders. The prize will alternate between physics and chemistry, with chemistry in odd-numbered years and physics in even-numbered years. The award ceremony will take place in connection with the Birkeland lecture in September each year.