Is carbon storage all it’s cracked up to be?

A UK university has been awarded €1 million (£900,000) to assess the risks of underground carbon dioxide storage sites leaking. Scientists at Heriot-Watt University aim to use the funding to […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

A UK university has been awarded €1 million (£900,000) to assess the risks of underground carbon dioxide storage sites leaking.

Scientists at Heriot-Watt University aim to use the funding to improve understanding of how fractures in the rocks used to trap the greenhouse gas can affect the process.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) catches carbon dioxide produced at source sites such as power stations or other industrial sites and then stores it safely deep underground, rather than releasing it into the air as harmful emissions.

Researchers say if gas leaks through fissure it can chemically react with rocks or dissolve in groundwater – this can then further increase the flow of escaping gas and cause other problems, making monitoring potential leaks challenging.

Professor John Underhill, Chief Scientist of Heriot-Watt University, said: “The research to be undertaken by Dr Busch and the team will provide a critical test and validation of the seals for carbon storage sites.

“The results will help evaluate the risk or any threat of carbon dioxide leakage into the overburden, something that is crucial to know before any gas injection takes place.”