Carbon Sequestration

Although alternative energy production is growing, the world will remain dependent on fossil fuels for decades to come. Sequestration and storage of waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plants and other sources can prevent it from building up in the atmosphere. In particular, deep saline aquifers, a kilometer or more beneath the surface, have a large capacity for CO2 storage.

In such “sequestration,” CO2 injected into the pore spaces of deep formations is retained by overlying low permeability cap rocks and as isolated bubbles. Over time, the aqueous CO2 can react with the minerals of the formations to transform the CO2 into a solid phase, trapping it.

While the health implications of low concentrations of CO2 are benign, the scale of the problem is formidable:

  • To stabilize atmospheric levels of CO2 at 500 ppm (1.8 times pre-industrial levels), 175 gigatons of carbon must be prevented from reaching the atmosphere in the next 50 years
  • Carbon storage likely will account for at least 75 gigatons or more of this emissions avoidance

The Department of Geological Sciences and GLEI are working to expand the University’s portfolio to encompass the need for further research in carbon sequestration.

More Energy Power Management research can be found here: