In his lab experiments, Zuo discovered that carbon dioxide has an incredibly low the relative permeability when it's released from water. "This is good news," Benson said. "It means that it's not really a problem if water with dissolved carbon dioxide gets out of the storage reservoir, because when the bubbles come out of solution, they actually plug up the rock formation."
But will the released carbon dioxide bubbles eventually escape? "Lin's study predicts that the rock formation will stay plugged up for a really, really long time. His research shows that one thing people worry about is not really a big risk after all. This kind of work helps us prepare for scale-up, so that we can accurately predict where the carbon dioxide will go when we put it underground."
Despite the enormous potential of carbon capture and storage to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, the technology has only been adopted by a handful of commercial operators, including the Sleipner natural gas project in Norway's North Sea.
Since 1996, nearly 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide have been captured from natural gas production at Sleipner and stored in a sandstone aquifer filled with saline water about 2,600 feet below the seabed, according to the company website. "The carbon dioxide will probably remain stored in the geological layer for thousands of years," the website predicts.
So why hasn't the Sleipner example been adopted worldwide?
"We can do it today," Benson said. "It's really just a matter of money. If we had a price on carbon that was $50 a metric ton, carbon capture and storag
|Contact: Mark Shwartz|