Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) has reported on the new research conducted by the Nature Communications, which shows that captured carbon dioxide (CO2) can be stored safely for thousands of years by injecting the liquefied gas deep underground into the microscopic pore spaces of common rocks.

The findings increase confidence in the widespread roll-out of engineered carbon capture and storage. Researchers from SCCS’s partner institutes, the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, compiled a worldwide database of information from natural CO2 and methane accumulations and hydrocarbon industry experience – including engineered gas storage, decades of borehole injection, and laboratory experiments.

Computer simulations were used to combine all these factors and model storage of CO2 for 10,000 years into the future. Previous research in this area had not fully accounted for the natural trapping of CO2 in rock as microscopic bubbles, or the dissolving of CO2 into the salty water already in the rocks.

The UN Paris agreement has committed the world to limiting climate warming to well below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. This requires huge reductions in the amount of the greenhouse gas, CO2, which is released to the atmosphere from industry, electricity generation, heating and transport.

Capturing these emissions and ensuring that CO2 can be safely trapped underground is crucial for the successful protection of the atmosphere.

Dr. Juan Alcalde, who co-led the research at the University of Aberdeen said, “The security of CO2 storage is an understandable concern for people, communities and governments. Our work shows that the storage of CO2 necessary to help address climate change can be secure for many thousands of years.”

Dr. Stephanie Flude who co-led the work at the University of Edinburgh said, “We selected the model inputs to be conservative but realistic. Importantly, our computer simulations, based on good-regulation practices, such as those used currently in the North Sea, retained more than 90% of the injected CO2 after 10,000 years in 95% of the cases. The most probable outcome being at least 98% retention.”

Scottish landscape

Scottish landscape