The basic concept of carbon storing is simple i.e. catch carbon dioxide from factories and other industrial facilities before it goes into the atmosphere and then either store it indefinitely underground or inject it into oil reservoirs to help pump out more oil.
But while many experts have touted the process as an essential factor in the mitigation of climate change, others have argued that it’s too risky.
A new study published in the journal Nature Communications has addressed a concern associated with carbon storage i.e. safety. In the past, critics have suggested that carbon dioxide stored underground may be able to corrode the rock layers above it and eventually escape, a possibility that’s been supported by some modeling and laboratory studies. This would be bad for the climate, of course, but some environmental and public health advocates have also worried that escaped carbon dioxide in large volumes could damage the water or air quality of nearby communities. But the new study suggests that such concerns may be overblown. The researchers examined a natural carbon dioxide reservoir near Green River, Utah, and found that the carbon dioxide has been trapped underground there for about 100,000 years without dangerously corroding the rocks that are trapping it in place. (For perspective, climate experts have suggested that carbon dioxide must be kept stored underground for at least 10,000 years to keep it from adding to the current global warming.
These observations suggest that storing carbon underground may (at least at some sites) be much safer than previous model and laboratory experiments have suggested.