Sequestering CO2

In earlier posts I mentioned the use of geoengineering as a way of dealing with excess CO2 emissions. One such method is called carbon sequestration and generally means pumping CO2 emissions into the ground for storage. The Economist has a report on one early attempt:

But few studies have looked at what happens once the gas is in the ground. In October 2004 a group of researchers led by Yousif Kharaka of the United States’ Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, pumped 1,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the Frio formation, a disused brine and oil reservoir east of Houston, Texas. The results of their experiment have just been published in Geology.

The team compressed the gas into its liquid form and pumped it into a layer of sandstone 24 metres thick, lying 1.5km (about a mile) under the surface. They have been monitoring the site ever since, and so far they have found no leaks.

What they have, however, found is that the carbon dioxide has increased the acidity of the water in the aquifer. This, in turn, has dissolved the minerals that hold the sandstone together. As their report puts it, “this rapid dissolution of carbonate and other minerals could ultimately create pathways in the rock seals or well cements for carbon dioxide and brine leakage.”

Of course, the study of this problem is in its infancy; hopefully, as technology improves, other experiments will turn out better.


The Heresy Begins.

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Robert Prather
About Robert Prather
Robert Prather contributed over 80 posts to OTB between October 2005 and July 2013. He previously blogged at the now defunct Insults Unpunished. Follow him on Twitter @RobPrather.


  1. cirby says:

    If you want to sequester CO2, just do it the old-fashioned way: make plants out of it.

  2. That’s certainly one way to go about it. If you travel around a city like Charlotte, NC, you will notice that all of the foliage also does a great job of lowing the ambient temperature as well.

    This also the way the Geritol Solution works. By dumping iron into the water, phytoplankton emerges and begins sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. This seems like a promising alternative and it would improve the fishing to boot.

  3. Michael says:

    The problem with the plants is that to have them absorb the CO2 at the rate of emission would require huge areas of land dedicated to them. Unfortunately, many such naturally existing areas on earth are currently being cut down.

    Still, biological and ecological solutions seem more sustainable to me than geological solution.

  4. RJN says:

    The link is to an article explaining that the sun is brighter than it has been for 1090 years. The “greens” never seem to understand that it is the sun that is making us warmer, not CO2. The component of extra heat from CO2 reflection is trivial compared to the extra heat from the sun.

    It is hopelessly expensive to pursue extravagent CO2 reduction schemes when they can’t have any effect for one hundred years. By then the sun will probably have begun a cooling cycle anyway.

  5. If you’re saying the climatologists are not controlling for changes in the sun’s heat output, you’ve got a point.

    I just have a hard time believing that climatologists would be foolish enough to ignore something as obvious as that without getting called on it by many more people. What you’re describing would require a massive coverup beyond anything we’ve ever seen.

  6. RJN says:

    We are now under a sun as hot as when the Norse were farming in Greenland.

    There are two factions, within the scientific community, on the issue of man made “Global Warming”: One says we did it with our SUV’s, one says that that is a crock.

    The link is to some remarks by various academics, some of whom are scientists, adverse to the Global Warming hype.

  7. Richard Hassinger says:

    Uh, no. There is no evidence to say that the sun is warmer than it was 1090 years ago, that article you linked to is just an opinion piece. Solar output has only been measured accurately by satellites for the last 20 years or so, and there has been no change. Prior to this, the only measurable solar output has been what reaches the earth’s surface, and that has been declining for the last 50 years due to global dimming.