According to a new study by Juan Alcalde, at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, storing CO2 in rock formations could help fight global warming.
The new study focuses on the idea that storing CO2 in rock formations can be done safely by being stored in sub-seafloors for thousands of years. It also reinforces the trust in the use of carbon capture technology and (geological) storage (CCS) of this gas at a large-scale to reduce the impact of CO2 (carbon dioxide) atmospheric emissions, generated by human activity.
CO2 can be stored safely for thousands of years by injecting the liquified gas deep underground into the microscopic pore spaces of common rocks.
What happens when CO2 is injected into the rocks?
Researchers from Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS), whose partner institutes include the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, compiled a worldwide database of information from natural carbon dioxide and methane accumulations and hydrocarbon industry experience, including:
- Engineered gas storage;
- Decades of borehole injection; and
- Laboratory experiments.
Alcalde said: “This is a complex database, which took us almost four years to complete and which enables us to understand what happens with CO2 when it is injected in the sub-seafloor.”
The study has seen researchers create a CO2 geological storing model, enabling them to work on simulations of predictions on the behaviour of the stored liquid for the next 10,000 years.
Gathering information on gas storage
As it is new research, the study gathers all the available information on the factors and processes that take part in gas storage, for example, the natural trapping of CO2 inside the rocks through microscopic bubbles, or its dissolution in the water which occurs inside some rocky formations in the subfloor.
Alcalde concluded: “The security of CO2 storage is an understandable concern for citizens and governments. Our job shows subfloor storage of this gas is secure in the long run, and, therefore, it is a fundamental tool to fight climate change.”
The importance of storing CO2 in rock formations
The UN Paris Agreement has committed the world to limiting climate warming to below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. This requires huge reductions in the amount of the greenhouse gas that is released to the atmosphere from industry, electricity generation, heating and transport.
Capturing these emissions and ensuring that carbon dioxide can be safely trapped underground is crucial for the successful protection of the atmosphere.