Saline aquifers can store century’s worth of CO2 emissions

March 22nd, 2012 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 22 (IANS) Researchers have identified deep saline aquifers capable of storing at least a century’s worth of CO2 emissions from coal-fired plants in the US.

Coal-burning power plants account for about 40 percent of worldwide carbon emissions, so climate change “will not be addressed unless we address carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal plants,” said study co-author Ruben Juanes, associate professor of energy studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“We should do many different things such as developing new, cleaner alternatives, but one thing that’s not going away is coal, because it’s such a cheap and widely available source of power,” Juanes was quoted as saying in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Efforts to curb greenhouse gases have largely focused on the search for practical, economical sources of clean energy, such as wind or solar power, according to a university statement.

But human emissions are now so vast that many analysts think it’s unlikely that these technologies alone can solve the problem.

Some have proposed systems for capturing emissions - mostly CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels - then compressing and storing the waste in deep geological formations. This approach is known as carbon capture and storage, or CCS.

One of the most promising places to store the gas is in deep saline aquifers: those more than half a mile below the surface, far below the freshwater sources used for human consumption and agriculture.

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