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Scientists find a cost-effective way to monitor CO2 storage

Posted July 16, 2016

In the light of climate change concerns scientists are trying to figure ways of capturing carbon dioxide, so that it could be safely stored away and would not contribute to pollution and greenhouse effect. Storing CO2 deep underground seems to be a leading method of choice for this process. Now scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Australian research organisation CO2CRC have found an inexpensive way of monitoring CO2 storing underground based on water tests.

Carbon capturing and storage has potential of significantly reducing human-caused air pollution. Image credit: Uwe Hermann via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.5

Carbon capturing and storage has potential of significantly reducing human-caused air pollution. Image credit: Uwe Hermann via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.5

Their method has already been proven to be effective in Carbon Capture and Storage site in Otway Basin, in south eastern Australia. Scientists took a deeper look at the different forms of oxygen in waters, locked deep down in the rocks underground. They found that oxygen composition of these waters changes when these waters come in contact with bubbles of trapped CO2. From here it is rather simple – measuring these changes in water oxygen composition provides a simple yet effective way to measure the amount of CO2 stored in such sites.

This analysis showed that CO2 is very quickly trapped into the rocks after injection. Obviously, injecting captured CO2 in itself is not worth it, if these gases leak out immediately. But with current technology CO2 is retained in the rock like air is trapped in a simple foam sponge. These underground rocks are in the water, which means that water tests are a good way to see how effective CO2 capturing and retaining was. Scientists only have to take some measurements of water before and after the CO2 injection process has been completed.

Dr Sascha Serno, one of the authors of the study, said: “Our results highlight the promising potential of using oxygen compositions to monitor the fate of CO2 injected underground. This method is simple and cheap, and can be easily combined with other monitoring techniques for CCS projects in the UK and beyond”.

World has to find ways to reduce emissions and to preserve the environment for future generations. However, progress of industry cannot be stopped, which means a compromise has to be found. Carbon capturing and storage technologies are one of the best possible solutions, which makes all of similar advancements a right steps to the right direction.


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