Whatever transitions in energy systems take place over the coming decades, it is certain that use of fossil fuels will continue for some of that time. Instead of releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) produced during fossil fuel conversion into the atmosphere, it could be stored on time scales long enough to reduce its impact on climate and geochemical systems.
Subsurface geologic formations are an attractive option for CO2 storage. Potential locations include depleted oil and gas reservoirs, deep unmineable coal beds, and deep porous formations containing salt water. Oil and gas reservoirs exist only where there is an underground structure that includes a seal that can retain gas and oil, and subsequently, CO2 for long time periods. Considerable experience developed in enhanced oil-recovery operations will be available to guide CO2 storage projects. Coal bed storage relies on adsorption of the CO2 on coal surfaces, while storage in deep formations containing salt water makes use of the CO2's solubility in salt water.
Increased understanding of the interactions and dynamics of CO2 once it is injected into these formations could help insure the effectiveness and safety of this approach. Research including modeling and laboratory studies could help improve the characterization of suitable storage sites.Investigators in CO2 Storage Current Research Activities