US awards $4m to enhance safety and security of carbon storage

Four selected projects aim to identify and reduce the risk of seismic disruptions and CO2 leakage in underground carbon dioxide storage facilities

The Big Zero report

An investment of nearly $4 million (£2.8m) has been announced for four research and development projects to develop new methods that will enhance the safety and security of carbon storage in the US.

The projects aim to identify and reduce the risk of seismic disruptions and CO2 leakage in underground carbon dioxide storage facilities.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the separation of CO2 from the emissions of industrial processes prior to their release into the atmosphere and the injection of CO2 in deep underground geological formations, such as caprocks, i.e. hard layers of rock beneath the surface that cannot transmit gas.

During natural seismic activities, such as volcanoes and earthquakes, fissures can be created in caprock storage facilities, allowing CO2 to leak through the ground to nearby groundwater sources.

The selected projects will work to improve the tools to monitor the seal integrity of caprocks used in carbon storage complexes and develop methods to predict seismicity magnitudes and potential hazard of leakage during the CO2 storage process.

The four winners are the University of Houston, William Marsh Rice University, Battelle Memorial Institute and The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm said: “Large-scale carbon capture efforts are vital to getting America emissions free by 2050 and how we store this CO2 must be safe, secure and permanent.

“The R&D investments in new tools and technology to monitor underground activity near CO2 storage sites will help us minimise risk from natural events like earthquakes, safeguard the environment and water supply and get us that much closer to our clean energy goals.”

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