Carbon capture and storage: Carbon dioxide pressure dissipates in underground reservoirs

The debate surrounding carbon capture and storage intensifies as scientists from the Earth Sciences Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) examine the capacity for storing carbon dioxide underground, in a study published today in the new journal Greenhouse Gases: Science & Technology.

The study debates some of the conclusions drawn in an earlier study by Ehlig-Economides and Economides1, countering their claims that cannot feasibly be stored underground. These earlier findings, according to the Berkeley Lab researchers, only considered closed-system subsurface formations, with limited mechanisms for relieving the pressure.

and storage (CCS) is controversial in the eyes of the general public. Pressure build-up in the subsurface induced by the injection of carbon dioxide from industrial-scale projects is a key constraint for the amount of carbon dioxide that can be safely stored underground.

In their paper, the Berkeley Lab researchers considered a full-scale deployment scenario in which enough carbon dioxide is stored to make relevant contributions to climate change mitigation. Modeling studies illustrating the scale and magnitude of pressure build-up are presented for hypothetical CCS projects in two representative basins currently being investigated for future deployment of carbon dioxide storage in the US.

According to lead researcher Dr. Quanlin Zhou, although large-scale pressure build-up may have a limiting effect on storage capacity, it is not as significant as claimed previously by Ehlig-Economides and Economides. Dr. Zhou and fellow researcher Dr. Jens Birkholzer considered three different types of storage reservoirs: closed, partially closed and open. They indicate that the storage of carbon dioxide deep underground will occur mainly in partially closed or open formations, where pressure build-up is relieved naturally by movement of native saline waters into regions far away from where carbon dioxide injection occurs.

The authors conclude that CCS can still be considered as a practical means of mitigating carbon dioxide emissions as there is more capacity to store carbon dioxide underground than suggested in the study of Ehlig-Economides and Economides.

The study also concludes that pressure management strategies may feasibly be undertaken to relieve a pressurized system.

"This investigation furthers our understanding of the extent and magnitude of pressure build-up induced by large-scale underground ," said Dr. Zhou. "Using natural open and partially open formations will help attenuate such pressure build-up to a manageable degree."

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Geochemist raises questions about carbon sequestration

More information: [1] Ehlig-Economides C and Economides MJ. Sequestering carbon dioxide in a closed underground volume. J Petrol Sci Eng 70, 123-130 (2010)
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Mar 22, 2011
More Lilliputian ass-hattery. Let's bury all the excess sunbeams on the dark side of the moon!

Pay me now for weather control! I promise I can make it just right, only if you pay me now.

Mar 22, 2011
Sequestering CO2 gas at high pressure as proposed is likely to be an interim system at best. I think it is a bit naive to assume that pumping vast amounts of gas deep into the rocks will guarantee it stays there for good. The only really sure and safe locations will be where the gas reacts chemically with the rocks to become solid. High pressure liquid or gaseous CO2 will migrate along any permeable strata pushing ground water along before it. This will tend to make new cracks around the edges of the 'reservoir'. This in turn will change the seismic characteristics of the rock structures. There's an awful lot of unknowns in there.

As an alternative I propose the growing of several billions of tonnes of extra seaweed across the equatorial regions of the ocean. This will remove excess CO2 from the ocean, thus reversing the current dangerous reduction occurring to the pH of the ocean. I have outlined a very feasible method at: http: // weareanewspecies. blogspot. com/ [remove the spaces]

Mar 22, 2011
Seaweed ... continued.
The growing of seaweed in the giga-tonne amounts I recommend will not just heal the oceans and allow the continued absorption of CO2 out of the atmosphere [where currently the ocean is absorbing about 1/3 of the human made CO2 but will soon become less able to do so if we don't reduce the concentration]. It will also provide feedstock for bio-fuels, ingredients for foods for people and animals, and raw materials for agricultural fertilizers and other manufacturing. The kelp and other weed forests will also provide vast regions of new habitat for wild fish populations as well as places where the wastes from nearby fish farms can be cleaned from the water.

Mar 22, 2011
I like the seaweed idea, Mr. Paradox. But I think the legal and territorial problems associated with grabbing vast tracts of ocean would kill that plan, though.

I read over your blog, and you mention setting up governments on the ice rafts, which is fine. I'm just thinking they're extremely vulnerable to unsavory nations or parties.

Mar 26, 2011
Another government funded study to prop up the idea that CO2 is going to kill everything in spite of study after study that shows that in the past CO2 levels were much higher than what we will see in the next 100 yaers and life survived didnt it? I think the world has more important problems to solve than trying to bury CO2 that will only escape because it will diffuse in water all the way to the surface. What a crackpot idea this is!

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