Captured CO2 can be stored safely for 'many thousands of years'

Carbon dioxide can be captured and safely stored deep underground for thousands of years, a new study has found, raising hope for the future of negative emissions technologies tackling climate change.


Published yesterday in the Nature Communications journal, the study concludes that injecting the liquefied gas underground into the microscopic pore spaces of common rocks can be achieved with relatively little leakage.

Based on computer simulations, the researchers forecast that more than 90% of injected C02 would be retained after 10,000 years in 95% of cases with good-regulation practices, the most likely outcome being 98% retention.

The findings add weight to the argument for a widespread roll-out of engineered carbon capture and storage (CCS) in order to reduce CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere – a key requirement of the Paris Agreement.

“The security of carbon dioxide storage is an understandable concern for people, communities and governments," said Dr Juan Alcalde, who co-led the research at the University of Aberdeen.

“Our work shows that the storage of carbon dioxide necessary to help address climate change can be secure for many thousands of years.”

Previous research in this area had not fully accounted for the natural trapping of carbon dioxide in rock as microscopic bubbles, or the dissolving of carbon dioxide into the salty water already in the rocks. 

This comes after another study found that the the societal and economic benefits of deploying CCS on the East Coast of the UK would be as much as £163bn, outweighing the estimated £34bn operating costs

It was also found that CCS deployment would create massive new regional employment and investment opportunities, including approximately 225,600 jobs, and £5bn in environmental and health benefits.

Global CCS Institute executive adviser for Europe, John Scowcroft, said the research reaffirms the role CCS technology can play in delivering economic, societal and climate benefits.

“CCS is a well-tested and versatile technology which has been proven as essential to meeting international climate change commitments,” he said.

“This study provides data to support the need for rapid CCS acceleration and makes the sustainable base case for CCS as a central pillar in a new energy economy.”


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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