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DOE, EPA Launch Coordinated Carbon Sequestration Project

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Source: NETL
Article Type: Cited

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have begun a coordinated research effort to evaluate how the storage of CO2, a greenhouse gas, might affect the nation's valuable groundwater resources.

The 3-year effort, which will be led by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), is an integral part of the Energy Department's Carbon Sequestration Program. The program is designed to develop technologies to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The coordinated effort by DOE and EPA will take a major step forward in meeting the goals of the program and the overall mission of the President's Global Climate Change Initiative.

DOE and EPA will each focus on different tasks related to geologic storage of CO2 and its potential impact on groundwater. While the Energy Department, in general, will focus on large-scale injection of CO2 into deep saline formations and the potential for water displacement into shallow groundwater systems, EPA will concentrate on the migration of CO2 and its possible impact on underground sources of drinking water.

As carbon sequestration technologies are implemented on a larger scale, scientists expect that the amount of CO2 injected and sequestered underground will be extremely large as well. Research efforts to date, however, have not evaluated what impact large-scale injection and related water displacement may have on the groundwater resources in various regions of the country.

DOE is funding LBNL to conduct a series of four research tasks to better understand whether the large-scale increase of water pressure in CO2 storage formations may change the hydrologic conditions in shallow aquifers. This effort will specifically focus on any changes in groundwater table levels, effects on discharge and recharge zones in the groundwater systems, and potential impacts of those changes on underground sources of drinking water.

In the initial phase of the project, LBNL has set up a simulation model for CO2 injection into a deep saline reservoir, far below drinking water supplies, and conducted studies to determine the sensitivity of water displacement and pressure buildup on a variety of saline reservoir parameters. A literature review has also begun to evaluate the potential range of geologic and hydrologic systems considered for CO2 sequestration in the United States.

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