Air | Climate change | Ecotrope

Putting captured carbon dioxide to good use

Ecotrope | Nov. 29, 2010 5:09 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:44 p.m.

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Emilene Ostlind at High Country News has an interesting report on carbon sequestration – the test projects underway, the risks to water quality from storing captured CO2 underground, and the potential benefits, such as using it to push oil out of hard-to-reach pockets:

“If we’re going to stick CO2 underground, why not displace something we want to bring to the surface instead? Industry has been pumping carbon dioxide underground since 1972 to force out hidden pockets of oil.  Most of the CO2 used for enhanced oil recovery over the last 38 years is mined from underground reserves. While researchers look into storing carbon in southwest Wyoming, energy company Kinder Morgan is actually extracting pure CO2 from underground formations in southwest Colorado and piping it to Utah, Texas, and Oklahoma for enhanced oil recovery. The trick now is to figure out how to capture CO2 emissions from industrial sources like power plants or factories and pipe it to oil fields to put it underground.”

A big barrier to improving carbon capture methods now, though, is the lack of incentives for polluters to develop and utilize them. And, as Ostlind points out, that’s not likely to change without new climate legislation offering incentives to cut their carbon dioxide emissions.

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