Estevan becomes home to major carbon storage project

2012-07-25 12:41 by Anja Reitz

Everyday Canadian cars, trucks and industries emit tones of carbon dioxide. 

Scientists say it’s breaking down the earth’s atmosphere and contributing to climate change.  

In Estevan, researchers are working on the very latest technology to reduce those emissions. 

They’re trying to create a safe way to put the CO2 in the ground for permanent storage. The project is being called Aquistore. 

The Petroleum Technology Research Centre has partnered with the Sask Power plant just 2 kilometres from their test site. The plant will capture their carbon emissions and compress it into a liquid. Then, they’ll pipe it into PTRC’s test well. 

PTRC’s CEO, Dr. Malcolm Wilson, says our subsurface rocks have the potential to absorb more liquid. 

“We inject it into, if you’d like, a giant underground sponge,” he said. “Now that sponge is already full of water, but that sponge will hold more.” 

Right now, they’re still drilling the injection well that they’ll use to evaluate the geology before they inject the CO2. On Tuesday, they hit the 1500 metre mark, but the depth they need is 3000 metres. 

“At that point we’ll inject it into the ground and then that CO2 will basically kind of percolate out into the reservoir and remain there in the subsurface,” said Dr. Wilson. 

According to their predictions, the CO2 will dissolve into the water and over tens of millions of years it’ll turn into a solid. 

Right now, they can’t be sure of the long-term repercussions. Some scientists have suggested this process could cause earthquakes.  

Dr. Wilson says, if it does cause earthquakes, they will be minuscule and relatively unnoticed by the general public. 

They have their scientists working on a long-term monitoring project right now, so they can get better information into their models. They’ll watch how the CO2 moves to get a better idea of what’s really going on. 

“You make an initial prediction and then you’re going to verify that against what’s actually going to happen with you observation,” said Kyle Worth, Aquistore’s Project Manager. “When you predict that the CO2 is going to move X distance away, we have the observation well to actually verify that’s what actually happened.” 

The project has attracted international attention. Scientists and business owners from Korea, Japan and South Africa have toured the test site. They are all looking to reduce their carbon emissions to stop climate change. 

“If we’re going to do that, it’s going to take very large volumes of CO2 to make a difference,” said Dr. Wilson. “So can you imagine this being repeated thousands of times around the world? And we’re the first.” 

They plan to start injecting a food grade CO2 into the ground in December as a test run. If all goes well, they’ll begin injecting commercial CO2 in 2014. 

Source: Global Regina -Global News : Wednesday, July 25, 2012 7:10 PM

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