We’ve seen a lot lately of people and companies trying to find ways to sequester carbon dioxide. Many more have attempted to find a way to revitalize the natural storage of CO2 in to the lower sea levels. Some have been nothing more than egomaniacal and greedy attempts at success, others, more environmentally friendly.
But one thing you won’t have expected is that the oil giants may be part of such a solution.
Apparently, researchers from the University of Leeds have come across a chemical reaction that may very well move forward the storage of carbon dioxide in oil fields.
The Miller oilfield in the North Sea has been pumping seawater in to the oil reservoir to enhance the oil flow. Naturally BP has been monitoring their oil field to see whether water-borne chemicals will cause lasting damage to their equipment.
PhD student Stephanie Houston – who had worked on the project as part of an Industrial Case Studentship, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and BP – found that the water coming out with the oil was rich in silica.
Silicates are thought to be slow to react in such situations, but the data suggested that they had dissolved in less than a year. This evidence shows that, if it too were pumped down in to the oil fields, carbon dioxide could also react quickly in the same environment.
“If CO2 is injected underground we hope that it will react with the water and minerals there in order to be stabilized,” said Bruce Yardley, Professor in the School of Earth and Environment at the University, who supervised Houston’s work.
“That way it spreads into its local environment rather than remaining as a giant gas bubble which might ultimately seep to the surface.”
“It had been thought that reaction might take place over hundreds or thousands of years,” he added, “but there’s a clear implication in this study that if we inject carbon dioxide into rocks, these reactions will happen quite quickly making it far less likely to escape.”
Extracting C02 from power stations has been a thought previously put forth, and in the case of Sleipner, in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, has been used effectively. But this idea has yet to become widely popular.
Regardless though, this is the first time that there is scientific data to support the sequestering of carbon back in to the lower levels of the ocean. This will hopefully engender a return to the norm, prior to human intervention.
Leeds University via ENN – Planting Carbon Deep in the Earth
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