Underground CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS)

Global warming and the resulting climate changes are a major issue the world over. In order to stabilize the world’s atmospheric CO2 concentration, serious reductions in carbon dioxide  emissions are a necessity. TU Delft researchers are looking into the possibilities of useful underground CO2 storage.

CO2 emission
Carbon dioxide, released when burning fossil fuel, is one of the so-called greenhouse gasses that cause global warming. Worldwide CO2 emission has increased by 2.5 percent annually since the year 2000 and will most likely rise even further during the coming decades. To stabilize global CO2 emission at a level that prevents even more interference with the world’s climate system, a reduction of over 50 percent is agreed on. This can be achieved by introducing three main measures: improvements in energy efficiency and energy production, the use of renewable energy sources and the clean use of fossil fuels by capturing and storing CO2. Although energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy are widely promoted, it is becoming clear that these measures alone cannot yet achieve the required emission reductions. CO2 capture and storage (CCS), therefore, is also necessary. That is why researchers at TU Delft are studying the possibilities of underground CO2 storage in coal beds and nearly depleted gas reservoirs in the Netherlands, as a temporary solution.

Practical use
CO2 can be stored underground by injecting it into the earth’s surface. It then spreads through fractures in the coal layers and is stored in the matrix of the coal or the gas reservoir pores. The Netherlands has several suitable locations for these types of underground storage. Injecting CO2 has the added advantage that it can be used to recover methane from the coal bed, as the carbon dioxide and methane swap places. In almost empty gas reservoirs, the increased pressure enhances the production of the original gas.

TU Delft has a lot of experience in researching underground CO2 storage. We have developed coal bed models in which fracture density and orientation, sorption and diffusion are used as input parameters to determine the speed at which the carbon dioxide spreads through the coal layers. With high-pressure equipment, we can simulate what happens in the subsurface up to two kilometre depths. Besides storage in coal layers and injection into exhausted gas fields, TU Delft also investigates geophysical methods to monitor the CO2 behaviour through time. These temporary measures will give scientist another hundred years or so to come up with permanent solutions to the worlds energy problems. 

At present, fourteen TU Delft researchers are involved in the Underground CCS monitoring project. It is part of CATO, a five-year national research program on CO2 capture, transport and storage in the Netherlands, initiated by the Dutch government. Parties involved include the University of Utrecht, TNO and Shell. The aim of CATO is to identify whether, how and under which conditions CCS can contribute to a sustainable energy system in the Netherlands from an economical, technical, social and ecological point of view. 

To learn more about our research into Underground CO2 Capture and Storage, please contact Karl-Heinz Wolf.
Telephone: +31 (0)15 278 6029
Email: K.H.A.A.Wolf@remove-this.tudelft.nl
Internet: http://www.co2-cato.nl

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