Total funds Cambridge Quantum Computing

Deal to adapt QCQ’s Eumen quantum chemistry algorithm to carbon capture, utilization and storage. CQC technology to run on ‘near-term’ quantum computers.

Total has entered into a multi-year agreement with Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) to develop quantum algorithms for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). CCUS begins with the capture of CO2 from sources such as coal and oil-power plants, steel manufacturers and cement works. The ‘use’ part of the equation can involve assisted recovery of oil and gas and also the transformation of CO2 into synfuels (albeit with some serious thermodynamic challenges). CQC’s ‘Eumen’ software is a ‘quantum chemistry’ application, so it seems probable that the deal will address the development of novel molecules for capture.

As we reported last year in ‘Quantum computing in oil and gas’, potential applications of quantum computing in oil and gas include computational material science, where the ability to accurately model ground states of fermionic systems would have significant implications for many areas of chemistry and materials science. Such uses may include the catalysts and solvents used in CO2 capture.

How far off are such developments? CQC’s Eumen is described as a ‘complete (software) package to facilitate the design of pharmaceuticals, speciality chemicals, performance materials and agrochemicals’. Last year, CQC reported a ‘breakthrough in quantum chemistry’ with an enhanced ‘variational quantum eigensolver’ designed to calculate the energy of molecular ground states on ‘near-term quantum computers’. Which of course begs the question of how ‘near’ the near term is. At the Paris quantum computing event, the consensus was that for industrial quantum computing, the time scale is elusive, but that quantum chemistry (along with cryptography) should be one of the first applications.

Last year UK National Physical Laboratory launched a joint project with CQC to develop a validation framework for quantum experiments running on physical (i.e. real) quantum computers. The project is funded by Innovate UK to ‘enhance the UK’s competitive advantage in quantum computing’. Yes, it’s Cambridge UK, not Cambridge MA! More from CQC.

This article originally appeared in Oil IT Journal 2020 Issue # 3.

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