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Studying Storage of Greenhouse Gases

Contact: Ralph Derickson

Photo of powerplant that uses coal to generate electricity
Powerplant that uses coal to generate electricity.

Photo of Cortland Eble, a coal geologist at the Kentucky Geological Survey, who will be among those working on the project
Cortland Eble, a coal geologist at the Kentucky Geological Survey, who will be among those working on the project.

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This technology is designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide safe and secure long-term storage of the carbon dioxide in subsurface geologic formations. Injection of carbon dioxide in petroleum reservoirs may have the additional benefit of enhancing recovery of oil and natural gas, which would make sequestration much more economically feasible.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 7, 2003) -- Geologists from the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky are studying how greenhouse gases from burning coal and other fossil fuels can be captured and stored in reservoirs beneath the Earth’s surface as a strategy to mitigate climate change.

KGS is a partner in the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, which is receiving $2.4 million for a two-year project from the U.S. Department of Energy, Ohio Coal Development Office, and other participants. KGS will receive $50,066 from the U.S. Department of Energy for its work in the project.

In this partnership, KGS will collaborate with Battelle National Energy Technology Laboratory; the state geological surveys of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; Ohio State University; Penn State; Purdue University; West Virginia University; and eight energy companies.

Many scientists believe that increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are contributing to global climate change. Carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. In the future, emissions in the exhaust from coal-burning power plants and large industrial facilities may need to be captured and stored in reservoirs beneath the Earth’s surface, rather than be released to the atmosphere. This process is referred to as “carbon sequestration.”

“We will be investigating the technical and economic feasibility of carbon sequestration,” said Jim Drahovzal, who heads the Energy and Mineral Resources section at KGS.

This technology is designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide safe and secure long-term storage of the carbon dioxide in subsurface geologic
formations. Injection of carbon dioxide in petroleum reservoirs may have the additional benefit of enhancing recovery of oil and natural gas, which would make sequestration much more economically feasible.

The public and private sector partners in the project will compile and update data on the major carbon dioxide sources and storage sites (geologic sinks) in the Appalachian region. Geographic Information System (GIS) data are being included for infrastructure components such as pipelines. The geologic framework of the region will be investigated to better understand storage options.

Drahovzal said, “This is phase one of a two-phase project that will result in drilling wells in several areas of the country to demonstrate the feasibility of sequestering carbon dioxide in geologic sinks.”

“Carbon sequestration is a relatively new and tremendously important technology being evaluated across the nation. It is important that we study the potential use of this important technology in Kentucky. It will enable us to provide valuable information and technical expertise to decision makers in the private and public sectors when this technology is employed in the future,” said Jim Cobb, KGS director.


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