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New €4M European project aids understanding of long-term CO2 storage

November 14th, 2012 | 2:40 pm

A new €4M European project to improve understanding of the most effective ways to store CO2 has been hailed as a big step forward for carbon capture and storage (CCS).

ULTimateCO2, a four-year project involving researchers and industry experts from across Europe, will significantly advance understanding of the long-term fate of CO2 when captured and stored in geological formations as part of the CCS process.

It will cover detailed lab, field and modelling studies of the main physical and chemical processes involved and their impacts in the long-term including: trapping mechanisms of CO2 in geological formations; fluid-rock interactions and effects on the integrity of caprocks that seal CO2 stores; and leakage due to lack of integrity of operating or abandoned wells.

Proponents of CCS believe that it is an essential technology that will be required to be deployed over the next few decades if the world is to meet its greenhouse gas reduction and energy supply aims cost effectively. However, critics claim that the long-term assurance of geologically stored CO2 with a very high degree of certainty is still unproven.

Dr Pascal Audigane from the BRGM (Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières), who is coordinating the project said, “CO2 has been captured as part of the CCS process for many years, and has been stored in geological structures without incident. For example, 1 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year captured from the Sleipner gasfield in Norway has been injected into the adjacent Utsira saline aquifer deep under the sea for the last 16 years. ULTimateCO2 will take a rigorous approach to understanding the long-term stability of CO2 associated with this storage.”

ULTimateCO2 will develop recommendations for operators and regulators of CO2 storage sites to provide a higher degree of certainty over the long-term performance of storage sites. The outcomes of the project will be disseminated widely to a broad audience including policy makers and regulators, storage developers, investors, the scientific community and representatives of civil society. This will improve public understanding of CO2 storage and CCS.

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