A new research paper from American academics is threatening to blow a hole in growing political support for carbon capture and storage as a weapon in the fight against global warming.
The document from Houston University claims that governments wanting to use CCS have overestimated its value and says it would take a reservoir the size of a small US state to hold the CO2 produced by one power station.
Previous modelling has hugely underestimated the space needed to store CO2 because it was based on the “totally erroneous” premise that the pressure feeding the carbon into the rock structures would be constant, argues Michael Economides, professor of chemical engineering at Houston, and his co-author Christene Ehlig-Economides, professor of energy engineering at Texas A&M University
“It is like putting a bicycle pump up against a wall. It would be hard to inject CO2 into a closed system without eventually producing so much pressure that it fractured the rock and allowed the carbon to migrate to other zones and possibly escape to the surface,” Economides said.
The paper concludes that CCS “is not a practical means to provide any substantive reduction in CO2 emissions, although it has been repeatedly presented as such by others.”
The report has come at a critical time when British and other governments worldwide have started to fast-track a series of CCS prototype schemes as a way of removing carbon from the atmosphere and helping with climate change.
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