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01/26/2011

A Clearer Picture of Carbon Sequestration

Source:  Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences

Simulations Shed Light on Fate of Sequestered CO2

Despite progress in clean energy, Americans will continue to rely on fossil fuels for years to come. In fact, coal-, oil- and natural gas-fired power plants will generate 69 percent of U.S. electricity as late as 2035, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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Geologic sequestration in saline aquifers (3) is shown in this illustration alongside other geologic sequestration ideas. Courtesy of Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC)

Carbon sequestration ideas run a wide gamut, from mixing CO2 into cement to pumping it into the deepest ocean waters. However, geologic sequestration-projects are promising enough that some are already underway. In this type of sequestration, CO2 from natural gas-, oil- or coal-fired power plants is pressure-injected deep into stable geologic formations.

"The natural first picks are depleted oil and gas reservoirs," says Karsten Pruess, a hydrologist with Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences division and a co-author of the study. The problem with this "put-it-back-where-it-comes-from" notion, however, is that combustion liberates about three-times more CO2, by volume, than the fossil fuels burned, according to Pruess. "So, even if all these old reservoirs were good targets—and not all are—the capacity available isn’t nearly enough," he concludes.  Read full article>

Publication:

G. S. H. Pau, J. B. Bell, K. Pruess, A. S. Almgren, M. J. Lijewski, K. Zhang, "High resolution simulation and characterization of density-driven flow in CO2 storage in saline aquifers'', Advances in Water Resources, 33(4):443-455, 2010