''People often ask, is geological storage safe" It's a very difficult question to answer. Is driving safe"'' she expounded. ''You might say yes or no, but what makes driving something we're willing to do" You get automakers to build good cars, we have driver training, we don't let children drive, we have laws against drunk driving-we implement a whole system to ensure that the activity is safe.''
Policy and progress
Engineers have more than three decades of experience putting carbon dioxide into oil reservoirs, where it increases oil production by making the oil expand and ''thin out'' such that it flows more easily, Benson said.
''That experience gives us confidence that we know how to drill the wells, push the [carbon dioxide] in and say something about what will happen when it gets down there,'' said Orr.
Currently, three industrial-scale projects are pumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the ground every year. Two of them represent the first efforts at storage in deep saline aquifers.
A Stanford team also has begun researching storage of carbon dioxide in deep coal beds. In coal, chemical bonds form between the carbon dioxide and the coal, making the method potentially more secure than others, the researchers said.
Even better, the process can free natural gas that sits on the coal's surface. Natural gas is a relatively clean fossil fuel, which can then be burned in place of coal, said Mark Zoback, professor of geophysics and a researcher on the project on storage in coal.
The project, which is funded by GCEP and GEOSEQ-a partnership involving the Department of Energy, several national labs, government groups and industry partners-is still in its early stages, the researchers said.
Of all the projects, only one is turning a profit without recovering oil. Sleipner, an industrial-scale project run by Norwegian oil company Statoil, injects carbon dioxide into a de