The Department of Energy has made it clear that they will try to make carbon sequestration work, and they recently put out a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to help them do it. The FOA states that up to $24 million will be set aside for projects that will test out different ways of sequestering carbon in “geological formations” – i.e. underground or underwater. The people who are granted the awards will get about 80% of the costs covered by the DOE.
There are various aspects that need to be investigated. First of all, carbon dioxide can be sequestered in different places. Some suggest pumping it into empty mines and natural gas wells, others promote the idea of storing it deeper under the Earth’s crust itself, and yet others advocate dissolving it into deep parts of the ocean. We don’t really know which one will be most effective and risk-free.
Besides figuring out the big picture, there are also details that need to be worked out, like establishing standards and protocols for measuring how much carbon dioxide is stored in a given system, how much leaks out, etc. And scientists also need to agree on a way to model these systems and predict how they will behave. Because we want to be pretty darn sure that the gas we pump underground stays there and doesn’t burst out like a colossal champagne bottle.
In other words, this is a big step for carbon sequestration in America – we’ve progressed from just talking about it all the time to actually challenging people to make it work.
Carbon sequestration is a funny thing. Dealing with greenhouse gas emissions by diverting them into the ground seems a lot more like treating the symptoms rather than the cause of our national energy disease. It’s not – to quote an overused and poorly defined word – “sustainable”. Still, the realists out there will remind me that attempting to curb global warming without it is impossible. In a perfect world, carbon sequestration represents an imperfect, but necessary transition technology. So let’s make that transition smooth, quick and successful.
Via Green Car Congress
Image via climatetechnology.gov
written by Eduardo, February 20, 2009
written by James Love, February 21, 2009
written by Eduardo, February 22, 2009
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