Using X-rays and CAT scanners to probe the undersea rock formations and their ability to store CO2 permanently, two petroleum engineering and applied geophysics professors at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have made an interesting discovery.
Any time a natural gas, petroleum, coal, or gasoline is burned, CO2 is formed, and too much CO2 in the atmosphere causes global warming. According to experts, the last time the average atmospheric CO2 levels were close to 440 ppm was 3 million years ago, and that was without the burning of fossil fuels.
The hope is that storing CO2 deep underground, safely encapsulated in a bubble under the sea, will keep it from contributing to global warming. However, the concern is that after a few years, small amounts of CO2 may leak and completely escape, appearing as bubbles on the floor of the sea.
Annual global CO2 emissions are usually about 30 gigatons, and Norway might be able to store two years of global emissions under the North Sea. Norway is responsible for 0.17 per cent of global CO2 emissions. China accounts for 23 per cent.
To research this potential hazard and allay fears, the researchers at NTNU have acquired a giant X-ray machine – a CAT scanner to determine how much CO2 can be stored in rock formations found beneath the sea. They are also measuring the speed of the sound in different types of stone. Experts do stress that even if small amounts seep out, the undersea storage of CO2 is still safer than it going into the atmosphere.
Since high pressure can cause the stone to crack, the researchers want to find a way to relieve the pressure. They want to find a way to remove the water being pressed out of the rocks when CO2 is injected into the seabed.
Experts believe that sending CO2 to undersea geological formations is much better than sending it into the atmosphere, but they also stress the need for consumers to monitor and limit their CO2 emissions to lower the amount of CO2 emissions created in the first place.