Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Figuring out where to put the carbon

Figuring out where to put the carbon:

"Such estimates are complicated because there are several different mechanisms by which the CO2 can spread out from the point where it is released underground, and additional mechanisms that allow it to eventually become trapped. The spreading can occur by natural groundwater flows or by migration upward along a sloping aquifer, and the trapping can be caused by the CO2 dissolving in the water in deep aquifers, or by seeping through capillary action into cracks in the rock.

Juanes said his system accounts for all of the major known mechanisms by which carbon dioxide can get trapped in these underground formations. But for future research, he added, “The key uncertainty is the potential migration of CO2 vertically across geologic layers.” For instance, the pressure of the injected CO2 might produce faults and fractures in the rock, and this could create pathways to the surface and into the atmosphere. Juanes says his team is now working to better understand this potential mechanism."