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Carbon Sequestration

Red

Balansay

ESS 315

What Is It?

• Also known as “carbon capture”

A geoengineering technique for the long-term storage of carbon dioxide (or other forms of carbon) for the mitigation of global warming

More than 33 billion tons of carbon emissions (annual worldwide)

Ways that carbon can be stored (sequestered):

– In plants and soil “terrestrial sequestration” (“carbon sinks”) – Underground “geological sequestration” – Deep in ocean “ocean sequestration” – As a solid material (still in development)

Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration

T errestrial C arbon S equestration

Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration

The process through which CO2 from the atmosphere is

absorbed naturally through photosynthesis & stored as

carbon in biomass & soils.

Tropical deforestation is responsible for 20% of world’s

annual CO2 emissions, though offset by uptake of

atmospheric CO2 by forests and agriculture

Ways to reduce greenhouse gases:

avoiding emissions by maintaining existing carbon storage in trees and soils

increasing carbon storage by tree planting or conversion from conventional to conservation tillage practices on agricultural lands

Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration (continued)

Carbon seq. rates differ based on the species of tree,

type of soil, regional climate, topography & management practice Pine plantations in SE United States can accumulate

almost 100 metric tons of carbon per acre after 90

years (~ 1 metric ton : 1 year)

Carbon accumulation eventually reaches saturation point where additional sequestration is no longer possible (when trees reach maturity, or when the organic matter in soils builds back up to original levels before losses occurred)

After saturation, the trees or agricultural practices still need to be sustained to maintain the accumulated carbon and prevent subsequent losses of carbon back to the atmosphere

Geological Sequestration

G eological S equestration Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (Illinois)

Midwest Geological Sequestration

Consortium (Illinois)

Geological Sequestration

Storing of CO2 underground in rock

formations able to retain large amounts of CO2 over a long time period

Held in small pore spaces (have held oil

and nat. gas for

millions of years)

G eological S equestration • Storing of CO 2 underground in rock formations able to retain

Layers shown: Coal, brine aquifer, gas bearing sandstone, gas bearing shale

Geological Sequestration (continued)

Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (Illinois Basin)

1/7 regional partnerships selected to determine the best approaches for capturing and storing CO2 that might otherwise contribute to global climate change

assess geological carbon sequestration options in the 60,000 square mile Illinois Basin (Within the Basin are deep, noneconomic coal resources, numerous mature oil fields and deep saline rock formations with potential to store CO2)

Feb 2009: Successfully completed 8,000 ft deep injection

well

By 2013, a total of one million metric tons of carbon dioxide (roughly the annual emissions of 220,000 automobiles) is expected to be stored within the formation.

Ocean Sequestration

O cean S equestration

Ocean Sequestration

“Carbon is naturally stored in the ocean via two pumps,

solubility and biological, and there are analogous man-

made methods, direct injection and ocean fertilization, respectively. Eventually equilibrium between the ocean and the atmosphere will be reached with or without

human intervention and 80% of the carbon will remain in

the ocean. The same equilibrium will be reached whether the carbon is injected into the atmosphere or the ocean. The rational behind ocean sequestration is

simply to speed up the natural process.”

Ocean Sequestration

Carbon sequestration by

direct injection into the

deep ocean involves the capture, separation, transport, and injection of CO2 from land or

tankers

1/3 of CO2 emitted a year already enters the ocean

Ocean has 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere

O cean S equestration • Carbon sequestration by direct injection into the deep ocean involves the
O cean S equestration • Carbon sequestration by direct injection into the deep ocean involves the

National Energy Technology Laboratory

N ational E nergy T echnology L aboratory

National Energy Technology Laboratory

(NETL)

Develop technologies to capture, separate, and store

carbon dioxide (CO2) in order to reduce greenhouse gas

emissions without adversely influencing energy use or hindering economic growth

Contributes greatly to Obama’s goal of the development

of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

NETL envisions having a technology portfolio of safe, cost-effective, commercial-scale greenhouse gas

capture, storage, and mitigation technologies that are

available for commercial deployment beginning in 2020.

National Energy Technology Laboratory

NETL’s primary Carbon Sequestration Research &

Development Objectives:

lowering the cost and energy penalty associated with CO2 capture from large point sources

improving the understanding of factors affecting CO2 storage permanence, capacity, and safety in geologic

formations and terrestrial ecosystems

Once met, new and existing power plants and fuel processing facilities in the U.S. (and around the world)

will have the potential to be retrofitted with CO2 capture

technologies.

Offset Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

At the global level, the IPCC Third Assessment Report estimates that ~100 billion metric tons of carbon over the next 50 years could be sequestered through forest preservation, tree planting and improved agricultural management.

Offset 10-20% of estimated fossil fuel emissions Obama’s Clean Coal Plan

fund five essentially pilot projects with commercial scale coal- fired power plants that have carbon capture & sequestration

Offset Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Carbon Sequestration is not yet viable at a commercial level

Small scale projects demonstrated (lab experiments) but CS is still a developing technology

Concern with injecting carbon dioxide into

ground or ocean because fear of leaks into water table or escape of CO2 into a massive bubble that can potentially

suffocate humans and animals