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Opinion

Opinion

Underground resource

Research being conducted by the Kansas Geological Survey may provide the basis for a new industry in the state.

January 17, 2011

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Natural resources that are removed from beneath the surface of Kansas — salt, natural gas and oil — already support profitable industries in the state.

Now, researchers are looking at a potential underground industry based on putting something back.

Yes, CO2, can be like gold for our state.

Researchers for the Kansas Geological Survey have been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to test a technique that would help determine the feasibility of storing carbon dioxide thousands of feet below the earth’s surface.

Around the world, scientists are studying ways to store carbon dioxide produced by industry underground as a way to curb greenhouse gases. Researchers in Kansas are considering a deep saline aquifer in south-central and southwestern Kansas as a potential spot to sequester CO2. The aquifer, known as the Arbuckle, is a suitable candidate because the water it contains is unusable.

A porous rock formation more than 3,500 feet below the earth’s surface and 1,000 feet thick, the Arbuckle sits below layers of rock. On top of that rock is the High Plains aquifer, which provides much of the region’s fresh water.

The research team hopes to learn whether the aquifer is big enough to make storing carbon dioxide worthwhile and whether there is a risk of carbon dioxide leaking to the surface.

When it comes to carbon dioxide storage, the revenue and environmental protection potential for Kansas seem limitless. We wish great success to the Kansas Geological Survey in its research.

Comments

camper 3 years, 11 months ago

Storing carbon underground has its problems. 1) Capturing the carbon requires compression technigues that require the use of more energy. In essence you are releasing CO2 to capture CO2. 2) Constructing underground storage would require large amounts of capital and the use of fossil fuels to build wells and networks to transport this waste. 3) CO2 is lighter than water, so it can penetrate into the water system (underground and above ground) if leakage is present. 4) The costs of monitoring these wells for decades (if not centuries) will be a cost that will remain with us. As with storing waste underground, it is industry knowledge to understand that eventually, no matter how well constructed, a leakage will occur.....no matter how long this might be. 5) Compressed CO2 is highly toxic. A large release can cause death (as natural CO2 releases have proven). A natural CO2 leak in Cameroon resulted in 1,700 deaths.

Stored CO2 is dangerous and might have more potential danger than nuclear waste storage. All in all, I'm not so sure that this is a good idea, tho maybe technology can improve the feasability and reduce risks. I'm doubtful however. This is disheartening, because on the surface, CO2 storage would otherwise seem like an excellent idea.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

"A natural CO2 leak in Cameroon resulted in 1,700 deaths."

I'd never heard about this incident.

gl0ck0wn3r 3 years, 11 months ago

Lake Nyos was a pretty geographically specific event. Citing it as vaguely as you do in this context is like saying 1000+ died on the Titannic so ships are dangerous...

camper 3 years, 11 months ago

Yes it is geographically specific. But do we want to create man-made wells that could become geographically specific? I'm just saying that this potential danger is something that must be considered. It would be unwise not to. If there are ways to mitigate this risk, it would answer this important question. This is also something that nearby property owners and communities should also consider if such a storage was built in close proximity.

camper 3 years, 11 months ago

Ships are dangerous. But when someone figured out that if they can float properly, they can become less dangerous. Same theory is applicable to aeroplanes and crossing the street. We calcualte the risk before proceeding.

camper 3 years, 11 months ago

An analogy that I might add is the storing of carbon underground is much like sweeping a a problem under the carpet. This is not really a good solution in my view.

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