Carbon sequestration

US researchers have begun to evaluate how the storage of CO2, a greenhouse gas, might affect the US’s groundwater resources.


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


The 3-year effort, which will be led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), is part of the Energy Department’s Carbon Sequestration Program.


‘We want to ensure that future CO2 storage is safe, free of harmful environmental affects, and secure for hundreds and thousands of years,’ said Tom Shope, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. ‘Making significant greenhouse gas reductions over the long term will require capturing and storing millions of tons. This early coordinated effort between DOE and EPA will take a hard look at CO2 storage in geologic formations so that we can ultimately be sure the nation’s drinking water will not be adversely affected by large-scale sequestration.’


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. 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 US.