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Carbon study could help reduce harmful emissions

19.02.2008
A new study has revealed that storing carbon dioxide beneath the earth may be a safer and longer term method of reducing emissions in the atmosphere than previously thought.

NERC funded researchers at the University of Manchester found that carbon dioxide (CO2) has been naturally stored for up to 40 million years in CO2 gas fields in the Colorado Plateau and Rocky Mountains of the USA. Their findings are being published in the Geochemistry Journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

The researchers took CO2 samples from five natural gas fields and measured their noble gases. Their findings allowed them to ‘fingerprint’ the Colorado CO2 for the first time.

Dr. Stuart Gilfillan, the researcher running the project said, “The results show that the gas in the fields has been released from molten magma within the Earth’s crust. In all of these fields, the last time the magma melted and CO2 was released was more than eight thousand years ago. In three of the fields, it last occurred over a million years ago, and in one it was at least 40 million years ago. This proves that the CO2 has been stored naturally and safely in the earth for periods between eight thousand years and 40 million years.

“We hope this study will pave the way for selection of similar safe sites for storage of CO2 from power plants in both the UK and abroad. Underground CO2 storage, in the correct place, should be a safe option to help us cope with emissions until we can develop cleaner energy sources. A suitable storage place for the UK could be in the North Sea, where similar rocks to those in the gas fields can be found.”

Marion O'Sullivan | alfa
Further information:
http://ww.nerc.ac.uk

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